During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism (when he was trained to use clear, simple language, avoiding jargon), our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, has seen enormous technological changes, with his first stories written on a typewriter, and now he may have to adapt once again as this year could see an increase in the use of Artificial Intelligence.
Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdowns played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.
It’s a cliché, but no less true for that – YOU MUST ADAPT OR DIE!
When I started in journalism in 1983, on (what was then) the biggest newspaper produced in Wales (the South Wales Echo [SWE]) all copy was written on typewriters, before being placed in a basked on the News Editor’s desk.
Then it was computers, then the rise of the internet, and then the growth of social media.
You are reading this very story on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, and it has been written on a website.
Now the signs are that I must prepare for a new technology, which everyone is talking about-Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In 2023 the share prices of tech giants gained hugely, as investors became more and more excited about the prospects of AI. An equally weighted share-price index of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia grew by nearly 80 per cent. Tech firms benefited because they supply either the AI models themselves, or the infrastructure that powers and delivers them.
Last year other large companies spent much of their time experimenting with AI.
Plenty of firms are already using it to write the first drafts of documents, from legal contracts to marketing material. The bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, rolled out the technology to analyse US Federal Reserve meetings to try to glean insights for its trading desk.
But as the experimental phase winds down, firms are planning to deploy AI on an even bigger scale.
A survey by the auditing firm, KPMG, found that four-fifths of firms said they planned to increase their investment in it by over 50 per cent by the middle of 2024.
In late 2023 Microsoft employed an AI chatbot to assist users of its productivity software, such as Word and Excel.
It launched the same thing for its Windows operating system. Google are planning to follow suit, injecting AI into Google Docs and Sheets.
Startups are likely to pile in, too. In 2023 venture-capital investors poured over $36 billion into AI, more than twice as much as in 2022.
I have had to change constantly to pursue my craft over the last 40 years, and I may have to do so again. Yet I would like to think that even with the rise of robots, there will always be a role for a journalist like me.
You never know though…
Details of Phil’s astonishing decades-long journalistic career (when change was the order of the day), as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in an important book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – how the publication of details in a controversial report saying Welsh independence is a “viable” option by the biggest broadcaster in Wales, failed to mention that the survey’s co-author stood as a candidate for Plaid Cymru (Plaid), or that she wears her nationalism on her sleeve