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Contrasted media frames of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic: a content analysis of US and European newspapers

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Duberry Jerome, Hamidi Sabrya,
Project AI and Democracy: an Experiment
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Online Information Review
Volume (Issue) 45(4)
Page(s) 758 - 776
Title of proceedings Online Information Review
DOI 10.1108/oir-09-2020-0393

Open Access

URL https://ssrn.com/abstract=3935899
Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)

Abstract

Despite the growing interest in AI, the scientific literature lacks multinational studies that examine how mainstream media depict AI applications. This paper is one of the first empirical studies to explore how French and English-speaking mainstream media portray AI during a pandemic. The purpose of this study is to examine how media define AI and how they frame this technology.The authors selected five media outlets and extracted all news articles that mentioned AI over a period of 30 days. The authors constituted the sample to ensure a mix of global, national and local media newspapers. The authors included Le Temps (Switzerland), Le Monde (France), The Guardian (United Kingdom), Politico Europe (Europe) and the New York Times (USA). The authors used the NexisUni database to collect the news articles. This resulted in a sample of 54 articles, which the authors then refined to 35 articles mentioning at the same AI and COVID-19. They then manually coded to identify media frames about AI. Although no news article provides a definition of AI, most articles highlight two main characteristics: information processing and adaptability. This paper also shows that the coverage of AI in US newspaper is more optimistic than pessimistic. European newspapers offer a more balanced perspective of the risks and benefits associated with the technology, and highlight its use mainly in the context of the COVID-19. Media framing changes according to the evolution of the pandemic. While the USA were not yet heavily affected by the virus, Europe experienced the peak of the crisis. The authors argue that the framing of AI follows that of the pandemic. This study is limited in terms of timeframe (30 days) and media outlets (5). It would be useful to extend this sample to verify the results, and also conduct interviews among journalists to understand their motivations and understanding of AI. Despite the growing interest in AI, the scientific literature lacks multinational studies that examine how mainstream media depict AI applications in society. This paper is one of the first empirical studies to explore how French and English-speaking mainstream media portray AI during a pandemic.
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