Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming many industries, and data journalism is no exception. AI is already being used to help journalists uncover new stories, analyze complex data sets, and visualize information in new and innovative ways.

We will explore the future of AI in data journalism and discuss some of the key trends that we can expect to see in the coming years.

One of the most exciting ways that AI is being used in data journalism is to help journalists investigate and analyze data. AI can be used to combine and analyze large data sets from a variety of sources, which can help journalists to uncover new stories and insights.

"AI is going to help us to combine and analyze data in a simple way without much effort or coding skills. New features will come, such as high-resolution satellite imagery, which can be used in data and investigation,” said Data Editor for the Pulitzer Center, Kuek Ser Kuang Keng at Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) held in Sweden, September 19-22, 2023. 

For example, AI can be used to analyze social media data to identify trends and patterns, or to analyze satellite imagery to track changes in the environment. AI can also be used to identify anomalies in data, which can help journalists to spot potential problems or fraud.

AI to help journalists communicate data more effectively

Another key trend in the future of AI in data journalism is the use of AI to help journalists communicate data more effectively. 

Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois, US Brant Houston says AI can be used to create data visualizations that are more visually appealing and easier to understand. AI can also be used to generate summaries of complex data sets, which can help journalists to communicate their findings to a wider audience.

“The future of data journalism will be brighter than ever before. Journalists will have better analytical skills, and they will not need to be engineers to use AI tools. Satellite data and global data will be available in different formats, and the future will belong to those who can make sense of the data, not those who own the data," noted Houston. 

For example, AI can be used to create interactive maps that allow users to explore data by region or demographic group. AI can also be used to generate summary videos that explain complex data sets in a clear and concise way.

Piyush Aggarwal, an editor with the Data Intelligence Unit of the India Today Group says data journalism is not restricted to a few tools, there will be vast tools available to use machine learning to make data analysis without any coding background. 

However, there are some challenges, such as biasness of language models in data analysis.

Founder and Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ), Jeff Kelly Lowenstein predict that AI will be able to distribute and engage the outputs of data including data vizualization easily than ever before. 

“We need to use more visual-oriented data models in order to engage more on data driven and investigative stories,” says Lowenstein at GIJC. 

Challenges and opportunities

While AI has the potential to revolutionize data journalism, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed. One challenge is the potential for bias in AI systems. AI systems are trained on data, and if the data is biased, the AI system will be biased as well.

Another challenge is the need to ensure that AI systems are accurate and reliable. AI systems can make mistakes, and it is important to have mechanisms in place to catch and correct these mistakes.

“We need to validate and fact-check data analyzed from language models. AI can translate things in a horrible way. Journalists and scientists need to work closely to ensure a bright future for data journalism,” Executive Director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), Emilia Díaz-Struck says. 

“We need to be sure about our analysis with AI and do fact-checking,” add Emilia and insist that in the future, data is going to be available to everyone and will become an essential part of newsrooms.

Despite these challenges, the future of AI in data journalism is bright. AI has the potential to help journalists to produce more accurate, informative, and engaging stories. It will be interesting to see how AI evolves in the coming years and how it is used by journalists to tell stories.