AI news faces Swiss resistance
The Swiss population is critical of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in news production. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by the Institute of Public Opinion and Society (Fög) at the University of Zurich.
Currently, there is significant reluctance towards consuming AI-generated news content and paying for access, according to Fög. Nevertheless, media content companies are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence for news production. The launch of generative AI, such as ChatGPT, has further fueled this trend.
Fög has, for the first time, examined the population’s approach to AI-generated journalistic contributions by interviewing 1,254 internet users in German-speaking Switzerland and Romandy.
During the presentation of the latest annual report on the quality of Swiss media today in Zurich, Fög emphasized that only just under a third (29%) of the population is interested in reading articles entirely written by artificial intelligence. In contrast, 84% are willing to read texts written by media professionals without AI involvement.
“For the public, the role of journalists in news is still central,” said Daniel Vogler, head of research at Fög, to the media.
AI acceptance varies by news category
Acceptance of AI is higher for weather, sports, or stock market news than for political, economic, or scientific news. Moreover, over 80% of respondents want AI-generated media content to be clearly labeled as such.
Well over half of the Swiss population (61%) believes that the overall quality of journalistic production worsens with increased reliance on AI. In this regard, a clear majority is concerned about a reduction in diversity of opinion and an increase in fake news.
Moreover, more than 80% of those surveyed want AI-generated media content to be clearly labeled as such. So far, Swiss media has been reluctant in this regard, and there is a lack of clear industry guidelines.
“Swiss media should attach greater importance to declaring the use of AI,” said media expert and Fög director Mark Eisenegger. “Only then can journalism distance itself from the growing number of non-serious offerings based on generative AI.”
Only about 10% of those surveyed are willing to pay for entirely AI-written journalistic content. In addition to the prospect of receiving lower-quality texts, another reason behind this could be that a large portion of those surveyed associates the use of AI with cost and time savings for the media.
Challenges facing Swiss journalism
Journalism in Switzerland faces other challenges: the user group that is deprived of news, meaning those who hardly consume journalistic content anymore, continues to grow and has now reached 43% of the population.
Finally, when asked about the type of current news that interests Swiss citizens, many indicated “constructive journalism,” which is journalism that not only lists problems but also discusses potential solutions. Therefore, further development of such journalism could counteract the growth of the so-called “news deprivation.”