Understanding the impact of Artificial Intelligence on newsroom social culture and journalistic performative roles : a qualitative case study of AI as an emerging digital innovative technology in newsrooms
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Throughout the evolution of journalism, innovative technology has played a pivotal role in shaping the production and consumption of news. The transformative power of disruptive technology has revolutionized the journalism industry in the past by impacting the society it serves through the diffusion of innovation. Artificial Intelligence, when operationalized for use in journalism, has the propensity to be a disruptive technology, possibly transforming the industry in significant and meaningful ways. This research investigates the impact of Artificial Intelligence as an emerging digital innovative technology on journalism and mass communication from a sociological and historical context. The aim of this study is to examine how the use of innovative AI technology may influence sociocultural perceptions and behavior in U.S. and UK-based news reporters and their semi-automated newsrooms by comparing present-day news reporters and newsrooms against the behavior of news reporters and newsrooms at the start of the last century when television and radio emerged as previous disruptive technologies. Present-day semi-automated newsrooms employ smart technology based on Artificial Intelligence to aid in the production of news information. AI technology has been operationalized at every measurable level, from simple intelligent content management system agents to fully-autonomous robust agents capable of producing natural human-language news reports and short articles. Pioneering news organizations that push the limits of AI operationalization capabilities have partnered with technology companies to generate lifelike digital avatars based on living human news reporters. These avatars are capable of rendering news reports that can be presented on digital video publishing platforms such as YouTube or websites owned and operated by the parent organizations. Creating a new social role generates contention in a shared social space, leading existing occupants to consider their existing role and the opportunities or challenges posed by this new role. This phenomenon is examined using Diffusion of Innovation theory, Human-Machine Communication theory, and Actor-network theory to help understand the emergence of new social roles in shared social spaces. Such a perspective enables a more nuanced understanding of how new social roles emerge and gain influence, and how existing roles may be challenged or reinforced. Data collected through semi-structured interviews from news reporters at a global news organization with offices in the U.S. and the UK have been analyzed using a comparative framework to study social behavior, customs, and culture evident in semi-automated newsrooms. The goal of this research is to better understand the impact that the diffusion of emerging digital innovative technology may have on the social culture of journalists and the newsroom within which they perform as newsmakers.