The Rise of AI Journalism in India: Embracing the Future or Facing a Threat?

sana in india today AI Anchor

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to revolutionize various industries, and the media landscape is no exception. Recently, India witnessed a pathbreaking development as it introduced its first AI news anchor. This technological advancement raises intriguing questions and stirs debates about the future of journalism. Is this a significant milestone that will enhance news delivery and engage audiences, or does it pose a potential menace by replacing human journalists? Let us explore the emergence of India’s first AI news anchor, examining the implications, advantages, challenges, and ethical considerations associated with this innovation.

Bot Debut as Anchors in the TV studios

This month, an Indian media group (India Today) made a notable announcement by unveiling its inaugural full-time artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor. Named Sana, this AI-powered bot presents news updates multiple times a day on the India Today Group’s Aaj Tak news channel. The group’s vice chairperson, Kalli Purie, described Sana as bright, gorgeous, ageless, and tireless during a launch event even attended by the Indian Prime Minister.

Sana possesses a human-like appearance and utilizes text-to-speech technology to relay information fed to it as data. The introduction of AI-generated news presenters has been gradually gaining momentum since the arrival of the humanlike chatbot ChatGPT in November of last year.

Earlier in 2018, China’s Xinhua news agency pioneered AI-powered male news anchors utilizing computer graphics. This was then followed by the introduction of their first AI female news anchor earlier this year. Recently, Russia’s Svoye TV introduced Snezhana Tumanova as their inaugural virtual weather presenter.

Understanding the Rise of AI News Anchors 

AI news anchors, powered by cutting-edge natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, are capable of delivering news content with human-like gestures, facial expressions, and vocal tones. By synthesizing text into lifelike speech and utilizing realistic avatars, these AI news anchors aim to provide a visually appealing and engaging news delivery experience. This technology enables news organizations to streamline content creation, reduce production costs, and increase efficiency. While AI news anchors have been introduced in various countries, India’s foray into this domain has sparked particular interest due to the country’s vast and diverse media landscape.

Advantages of AI News Anchors 

Media houses have few benefits to reap as under:

Continuous News Coverage: AI news anchors can deliver news updates 24/7 without the limitations of human fatigue or scheduling constraints. This ensures round-the-clock coverage and timely dissemination of information to the audience.

Language Adaptability: In a multilingual country like India, AI news anchors have the potential to deliver news content in various regional languages, effectively catering to a broader audience and promoting inclusivity.

Consistency and Reliability: AI news anchors can deliver news content consistently, adhering to predefined styles and standards. This reduces the chances of human error and ensures reliable news delivery to the audience.

Real-time Data Processing: AI news anchors have the capability to process vast amounts of data in real-time, enabling quick analysis and presentation of complex information, such as live election results, financial updates, or sports scores.

The Challenges and Concerns 

Needless to say that it will pose a few challenges and concerns before the media, have a look:

  • Lack of Human Element: One of the primary concerns associated with AI news anchors is the absence of human emotions, intuition, and critical thinking abilities. Journalists often bring their unique perspectives, context, and judgment to news reporting, which may be challenging to replicate with AI.
  • Ethical Considerations: AI news anchors raise ethical questions regarding transparency and disclosure. Audiences have the right to know if they are interacting with a human or an AI-generated news anchor. Clear communication and transparency are essential to maintain trust and ethical standards.
  • Authenticity and Bias: AI news anchors rely on algorithms and pre-programmed data, which raises concerns about the potential for bias or misinformation. Ensuring accuracy, fairness, and unbiased reporting remains a significant challenge for AI systems.
  • Job Displacement: The introduction of AI news anchors may lead to concerns about job losses among human journalists. While AI can streamline news production, it should be viewed as a tool to augment human journalists rather than replace them.
  • Technical Limitations: AI news anchors may face limitations in understanding nuanced human behavior, cultural context, or handling unscripted situations. Adapting to unexpected events or breaking news may present challenges for AI systems.

Is it time to Safeguard Journalism’s Integrity ?

To ensure that AI news anchors contribute positively to journalism, it is crucial to establish robust frameworks and guidelines. Transparency and disclosure regarding the use of AI technology in news delivery should be prioritized. Journalistic values, ethics, and principles should guide the development and implementation of AI systems, ensuring accuracy, fairness, and impartiality.

You need a perfect Collaboration between Humans and AI 

Rather than perceiving AI news anchors as a threat, there is an opportunity for collaboration between humans and AI in newsrooms. AI can assist in data analysis, fact-checking, and content curation, allowing journalists to focus on investigative reporting, storytelling, and critical analysis. By leveraging AI tools effectively, news organizations can enhance their capabilities and deliver high-quality journalism to a wider audience.

And the big question – Are Journalism jobs at risk?

The world witnessed the launch of NewsGPT in March, marking the first-ever news channel where content is entirely generated by artificial intelligence (AI). This development has raised concerns about the potential threat it poses to media professionals and their jobs. Alan Levy, CEO of NewsGPT, hailed it as a game-changer in the realm of news, but as journalism robots become more prevalent, the impact they will have is drawing increasing scrutiny.

Shailaja Bajpai, a media critic, acknowledged that AI will undoubtedly have a lasting influence on journalism but cautioned that it is still too early to determine the extent of its impact. While bots may be capable of delivering news bulletins, Bajpai expressed doubt about their ability to engage in spontaneous debates as individual anchors do currently. With her three decades of experience in tracking the development of television in India, Bajpai viewed AI as a significant challenge.

In response to the rise of AI journalism, Bajpai proposed that explanatory journalism, on-the-ground reporting, and investigative journalism could hold the key. These aspects of journalism rely on human observation and experience, which AI bots may struggle to replicate. Bajpai emphasized the need for readiness to adapt and change in order to confront and overcome this challenge, stating that failure to do so may lead to adverse consequences.

Wrapping up 

As we see the cost of on-the-ground reporting continues to escalate, prime-time TV news has increasingly shifted its focus to studio debates. This transition has resulted in some media houses becoming mere amplifiers for the powerful, giving rise to concerns about corporate and political influences overpowering media organizations. Many commentators argue that a troubling pattern has emerged, where media outlets, instead of holding those in power accountable, have allowed the powerful to shape and dictate what is considered truth. Media columnists like Pamela Philipose aptly captured the prevailing sentiment, stating, “AI anchors and applications could lead to a democratic breakdown in unforeseen ways. I believe this should be our greatest concern.”

Ziya – is a content head at a leading digital marketing company in Nagpur and is a co-founder of TruthScape – a group of digital activists who deal with defying fake news and disinformation

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Quest of immortality

Quest of immortality has been as timeless as it has remained fruitless. First recorded over 4000 years ago on the Babylonian Tablets, it narrates the tale of King Gilgamesh of Uruk. His…

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News