Countering misinformation, AI in US elections


Speaking to technology industry executives at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday, Executive Editor Julie Pace outlined the biggest challenges news organizations expect to see this election cycle: misinformation and generative AI.

Pace explained the unique role AP plays in U.S. elections: counting the votedeclaring winners and reporting the results quickly, accurately and impartially, as the news organization has done for 175 years.

“There is no central election authority,” she noted, “so the AP has stepped in to play that role.”

She reviewed the steps AP takes to ensure its vote count is both accurate and trustworthy, including safeguarding AP’s systems from cyber threats, maintaining checks and balances within tools used by race callers, and focusing on explanatory journalism around race calls.

Especially in races that take longer than a day to be called, Pace made clear “it is important for AP to fill that space with explanatory information. We can’t let misinformation fill that void.”

Pace also addressed the threat AI-generated content and deep fakes pose to the 2024 election. She stressed the need for news organizations to take generative AI into account and encouraged newsrooms to build processes around verifying content. “Any of us in the media who ignore it at this point are doing so at their own peril,” Pace said.

When asked about the responsibility news organizations have in ensuring fair and unbiased coverage of political candidates, Pace explained that being fact-based and nonpartisan is fundamental to who the AP is:

“There has been a shift toward more media organizations taking partisan positions, or at least reflecting different partisan views. That is not something at the AP that we do, it is not something that we have done within our 177-year history, and that is not something that is going to change. It is actually essential for us to be a fair, fact-based, nonpartisan news organization.”

The conversation was moderated by Julia Sieger, journalist and presenter at France24.

Pace also addressed the impact of generative AI on the news industry in a separate discussion. Watch a replay (at 4:37:22).