What happens when China’s state-run media embraces AI?

4th July 2018

Two CAMRI academics have been quoted by a Columbia Journalism Review article that questions what might happen when China’s state-run media embraces AI. The article builds upon a 2016 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in which he expressed dreams of instilling a new international media order “wherever the readers are, wherever the viewers are; that is where propaganda reports must extend their tentacles.” As Xinhua News, China’s largest state-run news agency, equips itself with “Media Brain,” an artificial intelligence (AI) newsroom to assist all stages of reporting, these “tentacles” of propaganda may extend faster.

CAMRI Scholar, Xin Xin, reflections on these developments in the article, stating that “In the past, Xinhua looked up to Reuters and AP. Xinhua wanted to catch up, but suddenly, Xinhua realized it was still expanding while other news agencies were downsizing.” Prof. Daya Thussu picks up the discussion, suggesting that to successfully take to the world stage Xinhua will need a makeover. “China’s growing global influence” he continues “will enable Xinhua to become a widely cited source for international news. But first, the news agency will have to go beyond its rather bland and bureaucratic output and make its content interesting and engaging.”

The full article and debate can be read on the Columbia Journalism Review website.

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