The Faculty of Mass Communication and Fine Arts at Al Maaref University held an online symposium on Tuesday, 21 July 2020 from 10:30 am till 2:30 pm, entitled, Journalism and Media Industry in the Era of Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence.
The speakers were:
- Dean of Faculty of Mass Communication and Fine Arts at Al Maaref University, Dr. Ali El Takash.
- Head of Journalism and Digital Media Department, Faculty of Mass Communication and Fine Arts at Al Maaref University, Dr. Hatem El Zein
- Data Scientist and Co-Founder of Data Aurora, Mr. Ali Srour.
- Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Union College; researcher at the Montreal Al Ethics institute; Dr. Marianna Ganapini.
- Program Manager at Maharat Foundation, Mrs. Layal Bahnam.
- Associate Professor and the Head of the Computer Sciences Department at Al Maaref University, Dr. Imad Moukadem.
- Lecturer in Digital Transformation, AI and Communications, at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut, Mr. Maher Hassanieh.
Dr. Hatem has presented the symposium and our online guests. And the first speaker was the Dean of faculty of mass communication and fine arts at Al Maaref University, Dr. Ali El Takash where he mentioned in brief greeting for all different speakers, where he added that “The symposium is in the heart of our university and faculty strategic development, as we are setting up several postgraduate programs. We count on events like this one to design the most effective master programs to boost the theoretical and professional skills of our graduates to improve their hiring opportunities and professional improvement to eventually move up to key leadership positions in the future. Today’s event is a first step investment to form the core team around which our journalism and digital media department or even our faculty can grow, and hopefully the companies of tomorrow”.
The first presentation was presented by Dr. Hatem El Zein where he answered the question about why this symposium? He pointed out that “the idea of this symposium sparked in our minds last year, and hence it wasn’t an idea without foundation; a vision, a mission, and a strategy. It comes in the light that the Faculty works on three levels: professional development of the staff, updating the infrastructure and ongoing updating the circumstances should meet the students’ ambitions and aspirations to receive high-quality education”.
El-Zein added that new terminologies emerged in journalism and the media industry intertwined with technology. The terms are such as automated journalism, robot journalism, data journalism, and the digital report. He pointed out that “we have to benefit from AI and digitalization in many ways not limited to the newsroom; news-gathering; editing; digital reporting; facts checking to avoid misinformation; and research to develop the society”.
He concluded that “as everything is conceptually and factually digitized, journalism and the media industry should be revolutionized in a way that meets the digital citizen, the digital society, and also the digital government. It might be a dangerous transformation to turn humans into digits, but it is a compassionate way to gain a lot of time and meet society's needs rapidly. Here, I name what I am calling for the digital fourth estate which is the core of the role of new journalism”.
The most prominent points addressed by the speakers:
- Dr. Imad Moukadem delivered a presentation about AI. He argued that AI is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. He also mentions the different types of AI machines and how does it work, and how people use AI in different fields in their life such as car driving, creating movies, robots, creating music…
- Mr. Ali Srour talked about the challenges and opportunities of using AI in media development and journalism, where we may use AI in media journalism by getting benefits from the availability of data collection and analyzation, saving time, automating daily process… he completed that “media has eliminated the gap between large and small institutions where they build intelligent tools to produce text and to produce images and to help in avoiding the daily processes limitations and developing intelligent products”. CNN, FOX, and Al Jazeera are institutions that work in terms of AI, where he added that no matter how big or small the institution is, it depends on how they start to invest in AI and how they build AI infrastructure.
- Mr. Maher Hassanieh Chatbots are designed to conduct conversations with human users that they learn preferences and trends of the users conversing with it and offer them a personalized conversation. Where every one of us uses different platforms of chatbots such as WhatsApp, Instagram… Hassanieh added that there are different uses of chatbots such as in call centers, health care, insurance, restaurants, and even news and media where a user doesn’t need to access the entire set of articles or websites; he may just go to the chatbot and ask them about the things they need to know. In addition, he pointed to how chatbots work by firstly entering details, planning and designing the chatbot, set up keywords and their corresponding functions, and finally adding the proper integrations. As he mentions some basics about creating chatbots such as not pretending to be human, keep it simple, respect the chat medium, and use it sparingly.
- Mrs. Layal Bahnam has talked about how AI may help us in the media industry such as fact-checking with a specific tool that may conduct true or false news. As she mentioned that we must check facts and tangible data. Bahnam added that AI does not replace journalism; even if we have different platforms that are doing this automation of data. She argued that we need journalists to analyze the content to be able to provide a deep analysis of the situation.
- Marianna Ganapini spoke about content moderation that is when a platform uses its policy terms and guidelines to determine if the content or not. She added that we may approach content moderation by miss- or disinformation dissemination that may be best addressed by using less stringent tools, such as nudges, whereas serious violation (e.g. hate speech) may require more drastic solutions such as content or account removals. She even mentioned that social media platforms should not become the arbiter of truth. Moreover, she said that there is epistemic and behavioral harm which means not every misinformation can be harmful.
There was a part of asking questions. And at the end of the symposium, Mrs. Layal Bahnam directed an interactive workshop about the fact-checking process. She pointed to different platforms and the right way of fact-checking and the right journalistic practice.