Media professionals, practising journalists, academia, policymakers, and media rights groups present at the maiden edition of the West Africa Journalism Innovation Conference (WAJIC) organized by the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID) have harped on how media organizations can leverage digital innovations and tech tools to drive sustainability.
The WAJIC 2023 conference themed “Accountability Journalism: Nurturing Innovation for a Sustainable Future” focused on the need for the media to embrace Artificial Intelligence and the diverse tech tools to advance their work.
Richard Gingras, the Vice President (News), Google who delivered the keynote address, said, “technology is upon us. It has been for a long time. There are many language models, including many from sources we are not even aware of.”
Gingras noted that “the scale and complexity of the information space will expand further with machine learning and generative language models. The need and the challenge to develop better models to generate constructive content is important.”
Gingras, who said he has worked closely with emerging digital players, noted that “like all technology, generative AI has value. There is value in generative AI in the domain of news, particularly local news.”
Joshua Olufemi, the Founder, and Publisher of Dataphyte, explained that “AI tools are expected to drive the purpose of our work as journalists, and we should not be afraid of technology.
“We like to challenge everything that is supposed to help our work. Instead of challenging those AI tools, we should rather question how we can use the tools to satisfy the needs of the audience.”
Olufemi said “if we fail to understand that technology remains a tool to drive the purpose of our work, then it will look as if we are cowards.”
On media sustainability, Rosemary Egabor-Afolahan, Head of Commercials, News Central TV spoke extensively on the importance of partnerships with independent content creators.
She said “partnerships and collaborations with independent content producer is crucial. We should gain a comprehensive understanding of our target audience’s consumption behaviour, co-create content with them, and share revenue.”
The Innovative Trends in Verification workshop illustrated different tech tools that journalists can use to fact check claims, ranging from Lumen5 for video, Verification Game by FactCheck-Hub, and the Dubawa Audio Platform that is set for launch by Dubawa.
The two-day conference ended with recommendations for journalists and media outfits to understand the intersectionality of journalism and technology, and as such should embrace the innovations.