News from CTK

ČTK prepares AI guidelines, automation elements are used in newsroom for 30 years


The Czech News Agency (ČTK), the Czech Radio (ČRo) and company Seznam are the Czech media outlets that are furthest ahead in testing and using artificial intelligence in journalistic work. At ČTK, automation elements have been present in the news service for 30 years. Currently, the ČTK Infobank contains about 3,500 news texts that have been generated using AI. This was also one of the topics discussed at a conference on the results of a survey by Ipsos and the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, which focused mainly on artificial intelligence in the media.

"From the point of view of generating news texts, 2018 was a crucial year, as the ČTK celebrated its 100th anniversary and we first used generated texts for election results coverage. Now we are getting to the next stage - we are looking for ways to use AI tools such as ChatGPT," said Radka Matesová Marková, ČTK editor-in-chief. In addition to elections, the ČTK uses generated news marked with the editorial abbreviation "rur" for stories reporting, for example, on fuel prices and traffic accident statistics, and it is preparing to automate unemployment statistics.

"However, what we are producing now is not pure AI," the editor-in-chief said. The automatically generated texts are subjected to human editing, and the AI only acts as an assistant in the newsroom.

The ČTK has prepared internal guidelines for its editorial staff regarding the use of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT. "We are starting with cautious testing in text newscasting, but we are being very cautious. We encourage staff to familiarise themselves with these tools and test them, but we also emphasize that accuracy and reliability are paramount in the ČTK's newscasting, so they cannot be used as a source of information," said the editor-in-chief.

According to the survey, Czechs have a cautious attitude to technological progress in the area of artificial intelligence. More than half of the respondents see both positives and negatives in it, while the rest consider it to be mostly harmful or mostly beneficial for society. About half of the respondents were able to correctly identify an automatically generated article.

In the case of radio news, specifically an experimental audio recording of a robotic ČRo presenter on traffic news, 54 percent of Czechs described the voice of the robotic presenter as human. Another part of the participants in the research heard the voice of a real presenter, and only 9 percent thought it was a robot.

The survey also found that 48 percent of Czechs are concerned about the development of artificial intelligence (AI), with about a quarter saying they are "equally excited and concerned." However, six out of ten people would support the call signed by US entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others, which called for a six-month pause in the development of generative AI, such as the ChatGPT model.

The research revealed the overall trend that younger and more educated parts of the population place more trust in AI features than older and less educated segments, and that research participants relatively often chose "I do not know" in response to questions. Specifically, in response to a question about whether they thought AI would advance journalism, 32 percent responded they could not say.