The Impact of AI on Singaporean Journalists: Voices from the Frontlines
All images generated via Midjourney AI.
All names have been changed (because they’re all made up).

As the sun sets over the city of Singapore, Jane sits at her desk, staring at her computer screen. “I never thought I’d see the day when AI could do my job better than I could,” Jane says, her voice trembling. “But that day has come, and it’s terrifying.”

Jane has been a journalist for over 20 years, and she’s always prided herself on her ability to tell stories that inform and inspire. 

But tonight, she’s feeling something she’s never felt before: fear.

Jane is not alone in her fear. Across Singapore, journalists and writers are grappling with the reality that artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a game-changer in their industry.

“I’ve been a journalist for over 30 years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry,” says John, a freelance writer in Singapore. “But nothing compares to the impact that AI is having on our profession. It’s like a machine is coming to take our jobs away.”

According to experts, AI is capable of not only writing articles and news stories but also editing and fact-checking them with a level of accuracy and speed that far surpasses that of human journalists.

“AI can process vast amounts of data and information in a fraction of the time it would take a human journalist,” says Dr Lee, a leading AI researcher at the National University of Singapore. 

“It can also identify and correct errors in grammar, spelling, and facts with a high degree of accuracy, making it a valuable tool for news organizations.”

Jane at her co-working office, competing with her new AI colleagues.

AI in Journalism Today

According to a recent study, the use of AI in the media industry is set to increase significantly over the next decade, with many experts predicting that it will eventually replace human journalists and writers altogether. 

This has sparked a heated debate among Singaporean journalists and writers, with some arguing that AI will bring significant benefits to the industry, while others fear that it could lead to mass unemployment and a loss of creativity.

One of the main arguments in favour of AI in journalism is that it can improve the speed and accuracy of reporting. 

With the help of advanced algorithms, AI systems are able to process vast amounts of data and produce articles, reports, and other content quickly and efficiently. This can be particularly useful in the fast-paced world of online journalism, where the need for timely and accurate information is paramount.

“AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we produce and consume news,” says Dr Tan Kheng Boon, a leading AI expert at the National University of Singapore. 

“It can help journalists and writers to quickly identify and analyse trends, sift through large amounts of data, and generate high-quality content. This will not only improve the accuracy and timeliness of news reporting, but also free up journalists to focus on more in-depth, investigative reporting.”

Will AI Make Journalists Obsolete?

“I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years, and I’ve always prided myself on my ability to tell stories that resonate with readers,” Gan, a news reporter, said. “But if AI can produce articles that are just as compelling, what’s to stop media companies from replacing human journalists with machines?”

Another journalist, Ms Lim, echoes Mr Tan’s concerns. “As a writer, I have always believed that my work is valuable because it is human and emotional,” she said. “But if AI can produce writing that is just as emotive and persuasive, will there still be a need for human writers?”

These concerns are not unfounded.

In recent years, we have seen AI systems that are capable of generating news articles, poems, and even novels. 

While these AI-generated works may not yet be on par with human-written ones, it is only a matter of time before they become indistinguishable from human writing.

But not everyone is convinced that AI will take over the jobs of journalists and writers. Mr Singh, a veteran journalist, believes that human journalists and writers will always have an advantage over AI.

“AI may be able to produce articles and reports that are accurate and well-written, but it cannot replicate the human touch that comes from having real-life experiences and emotions,” he said. “As long as human journalists and writers can offer that, they will always have a place in the media industry.”

Author’s self-portrait.

While Mr Singh’s words offer some comfort, the reality is that AI is quickly becoming more advanced and capable. It is only a matter of time before AI systems are able to produce writing that is indistinguishable from human-written works.

Working With, Not Against

Despite these arguments, the fact remains that AI is making rapid strides in the media industry, and it is likely to become an increasingly important part of the journalistic landscape. 

As more and more journalists and writers start to use AI technology in their work, it will be important for them to adapt and find ways to incorporate it into their practice in a way that enhances their skills and abilities rather than replacing them.

One way journalists and writers can do this is by using AI as a tool to support their work rather than as a replacement. 

For example, AI can be used to quickly process large amounts of data and identify trends and patterns that might be difficult for a human to spot. This can help journalists to focus on the most important and interesting aspects of a story and to produce more in-depth and engaging content.

Another way that journalists can adapt to the rise of AI is by focusing on the human element of their work. 

As AI systems become increasingly capable of handling the more routine and technical aspects of journalism, journalists can turn their attention to the things that machines can’t do—such as telling compelling stories, creating emotional connections with readers, and providing unique perspectives on the world around us.

But not everyone is convinced. 

“I’m not comfortable with the idea of AI taking over our jobs,” said John. “Journalism is a human endeavour, and it’s important for us to have a personal touch in our work. AI may be able to mimic human writing, but it doesn’t have the same heart and soul.”

“If AI continues to advance at its current pace, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to replace human journalists and writers,” says Wong Li Mei, a freelance writer and editor. 

“This will have a huge impact on the industry, and many people will be left without work. It’s a scary thought, and it’s something that we need to start thinking about now, before it’s too late.”

Every single text in this story has been written by ChatGPT, a prototype AI chatbot trained by OpenAI to simulate human conversation. Right now, it’s more toy than tool, but it’s pretty good—people have already made the AI write out essays, TV scripts, and musical compositions. Insert a prompt, and you’re off to the races. 

So we made it write this story for us. The only human intervention is in the editing.

Prompt: Write an 800-word story in the style of RICE Media about how Artificial Intelligence may one day take over the jobs of Singaporean journalists and writers. Include quotations, dialogues, and interviews. 

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