Artificial intelligence in news gathering, reporting, and information-sharing may be helpful but journalists must also be wary of its risks to maintain credibility in conveying the news.

This is the shared message from seasoned Kapuso journalists Howie Severino, Pia Arcangel, Aileen Rae Perez, and Nikko Sereno during the GMA Masterclass: The Cebu Press Freedom Week Special at the University of the Philippines Cebu on September 18, 2023.

The Masterclass centered on the topic, ‘Journalism in the Age of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

The discussion aimed to help students, especially those in communication and journalism, be conscious of the way they may use AI in sifting through data and details - what to use and what to dispose of.

Arcangel, anchor of Saksi and 24 Oras Weekend, is upfront that she will not rely on AI. She says she cannot see herself being dependent totally on AI.

She says “it is just a tool” and as a journalist trained to present the truth and to observe prudence in reporting, AI must remain a tool to improve quantity of data collection. For efficiency and competence, journalists must continue to cross-check facts and figures and verify sources, these being the key principles in responsible journalism.

Severino, consultant for GMA Integrated News and editor at large for GMA News Online, emphasizes that while artificial intelligence can help journalists in terms of productivity, it is seen to displace certain jobs in the newsroom.

What journalists can do is to give value to their craft.

“We have to give value to our craft. We need to know more, to analyze, to inject human interest in our stories because hindi pa yan magagawa ng AI sa ngayon,” Severino says.

He says avatars are seen to replace news presenters but it is human strength to innovate at the onset of necessity.

“Nakakagawa ng avatar na marunong mag-anchor pero ang AI hindi nakaka-banter, so for example, sa mga weather presenters natin, we made sure they know basic meteorology, they are familiar with the jargon, they are familiar with the subject. While avatars can present news pero hindi pa sila nakaka-banter,” he points out.

Severino also emphasizes to student journalists how he has evolved from an “analog reporter” to a digital journalist with his own podcast.

“Dapat hindi na bumababa ang tingin natin sa Tiktok. You see, I’m a late Boomer, pero kahit pang Gen Z pa yan, nandiyan na ang audience natin and we have to reach out to them,” he says.

Platforms that are generating most of viewers traffic are so-called evergreens where programs are used in schools as support materials to learning.

“What we do now is not anymore a show. We consider what we produce now as content as we are done with the viewing-by-appointment arrangement. We have invested on YouTube. Ako, I want to survive as a journalist, and one of the ways is to produce content,” he adds.

Assistant Vice President and Deputy Head for Social Media Aileen Rae Perez says that one thing a traditional journalist has embraced through social media use is learning to talk to a virtual audience.

“Washington Post uses TikTok, pero dito sa atin, kulang pa ang journalists na gumagamit dahil hindi pa masyadong naiintindihan kung paano dapat gamitin, at may mga ayaw lang talaga dahil nakilala sila bilang serious journalists,” Perez, a former segment producer of “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho,” says.

She points out the importance of being relevant to today’s audience as journalists do not have the monopoly to their stories. These stories are meant to be served to an audience.

“We have to understand various platforms kasi yung mga purveyors of disinformation, kabisado nila ang mga platform. Dun tayo natatalo. We have to evolve para hindi tayo mag-dissolve,” Perez stresses.

Meanwhile, news correspondent Nikko Sereno of GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak shares that the most challenging part of reporting is going through the process of verification because with the way information is generated quickly nowadays and images are enhanced digitally, providing authentic and verified information becomes an exigent task.

Sereno shares he has utilized AI technology for quite a time as a tool in news gathering and reporting. For example, he uses Waze for direction during field reporting, translation apps for his scripts, transcription apps for his interviews and sound-on-tape materials and another application for checking the authenticity of photographs.

Welcoming the GMA Masterclass to UP Cebu, Chancellor, Atty. Leo Malagar, highlighted the importance of embracing an opportunity like the series to learn and grow, and to uphold democracy by learning more about the ever-changing world of journalism.

In a recorded message, Senior Vice President and Head of GMA Integrated News, GMA Regional TV, and Synergy Oliver Victor B. Amoroso encouraged participating students to take part in the conversation. “This Masterclass, after all, is for you,” he says.

At the time of the GMA Masterclass, he was in Amsterdam in The Netherlands attending the International Broadcasting Convention.

Organized by GMA Regional TV and Synergy, the Masterclass was attended on-site and online by over 400 communication and journalism students from schools in Cebu and Central Visayas.

The event was hosted by 24 Oras’ ‘Game Changer’ host and sportscaster Martin Javier, with entertainment provided by The Clash Season 3 Grand Champion Jessica Villarubin of Cebu, one of the Divas of the Queendom of All-Out Sundays.