AI, Journalism, and Public Interest Media in Africa

An IMS report shows that African media organisations are taking steps to integrate AI into their newsroom operations, but that progress is slow.

This study highlights the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) use in Africa’s media. It explores AI’s potential in strengthening public interest media through purposively selected country case studies from Eastern, Southern, and West Africa. We employed qualitative in-depth key informant interviews, newsroom observation, and document analysis.

The study found that while there is AI use across several news organisations in Africa, the adoption of AI
systems and tools in African media remains relatively low. AI use also varies regionally and across different media, with the most use cases in Kenya and South Africa. The big well-resourced media have invested in several premium AI systems and are also developing several custom-built AI tools. However, most of the smaller media organisations have either not adopted AI into their newsroom processes, or where they have done so, they rely largely on open-source tools. The most used AI systems are functional AI, deployed in content/news gathering, content processing, content/news distribution and audience engagement, and various editorial practices.

While technology is not a panacea for the challenges facing African journalism, AI holds significant potential to strengthen public interest journalism throughout the continent. Although the infrastructure needed to support the adoption of AI systems remains weak, there is visible interest and growing recognition of the potential of these systems. Media organisations are taking steps to integrate AI into their newsroom operations, but progress is slow. This is due to the various challenges surfaced and enumerated in this report. Partnering with local actors in the media sector, international media development organisations can play an important role in helping the media in Africa harness the potential of AI in journalism.

This is the second study scoping AI use by media in regions of the world where IMS operates. The first study looked at the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in Latin America and Eastern Europe.