Posted in Industry Insights

AP’s top editor: Media must call out facts

, by Lauren Easton

At the International Broadcasting Convention conference in Amsterdam on Thursday, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee commented on current challenges faced by news organizations – from fake news to fighting for access – and the role of artificial intelligence in reporting.

During the session titled “Lies, damn lies and alternative facts: Striving for accuracy in a new world order,” Buzbee addressed a range of topics, including President Donald Trump’s tweets.

“There have been tweets that say China is creating a hoax about climate change, and Obama ordering a wiretap – these need to be called out as having no factual basis,” Buzbee said. “It’s very dangerous territory if the media does not call out what is factual.”

AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee, right, speaks with moderator Paul Robinson during a session at the IBC conference in Amsterdam, Sept. 14, 2017. (Photo courtesy IBC)

AP has long done some of the most thorough fact-checking in the news industry, and last year began working with Facebook to knock down false stories trending on the social network.

“The accessibility of information and speed that information travels now make it possible for people to be in the conversation and just throw information out there,” said Buzbee of the proliferation of fake news.

Buzbee also spoke about the role of technology in journalism, explaining how artificial intelligence has the potential to help journalists with deeper, fact-based reporting:

That could be something as simple as sorting through reams of data to find a campaign finance story or report more deeply on pollution, for example. It helps us with fact checking, too, and vetting user-generated content. There is a ton of opportunity for us to tell deeper and more fact-checked stories with AI. But it’s important that it is in no way substitute for journalists. It’s potentially a fantastic tool for journalists to deepen their work, not a cost-cutting measure.

A replay of Buzbee’s IBC remarks is available here.