KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Markovich: Will you know when your local news anchor becomes ‘automated’?

Dec 27, 2023, 11:13 AM

"Real" anchor prepares for newscast. (Getty Images)...

"Real" anchor prepares for newscast. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

There are claims that last month, China started providing English-language news stories on social media with news anchors that look like your American-sounding news anchors – young, handsome, pretty.

That doesn’t seem extraordinary except that the anchors are computer generated – AI generated.   The scripts these artificially intelligent anchors are reading with AI generated voices are AI generated too.

 

Maybe it was inevitable, that computer graphics would get so good, to mimic a human face and voice that you can’t tell if it’s real or fake.

And you might say – ah that can’t happen here in the United States – we are too smart.  We can spot deep fakes like AI generated anchors delivering AI generated news.

But all it takes is just a few keystrokes entered into these AI chatbots – with terms like Gaza, United States, conspiracy, Republican or Democratic support and Hunter Biden — to generate news stories instantly.

The only human input is the person entering the keywords and it all can be done in real time.

It’s going to happen

We turn on our local TV newscast and see the anchors we have known for years, sometimes decades.  I was part of that broadcast TV news business for decades myself.

But large media companies – always watching for the cheapest way to produce news – now believe that news anchors you learn to trust – are expendable.

Have you noticed a revolving door of new faces on your local TV newscast – sometimes the turnover at TV stations is so pronounced – that even station employees are asking who is that new person on our air.

And take what Scripps Broadcasting is doing.  You may not have heard of them – they don’t own any TV stations in the Seattle market but they do own stations all over the country.

The company is systematically removing anchors from newscasts and having reporters toss from one story to another – no anchors need to bridge the gap.

Reporters and producers are usually the journalists who write spoken words in a newscast and do the hard work, doing interviews, and gathering facts.

With high turnover with TV talent, media companies are betting you the audience can’t keep track of the turnover – and maybe won’t notice an artificially generated news anchor is now delivering your local news.

All of this is to say – support the local journalists that you know – even recognize – who are not making a big salary – but have a passion for reporting the news – real news, not artificially generated deep fakes – accountability and democracy depend on it.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio.

KIRO Newsradio Opinion

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Markovich: Will you know when your local news anchor becomes ‘automated’?