Director's Note | March 2023

emily metzgar - jargon

My task? Write a Director’s Note about ChatGPT for an audience of media professionals. I want to explain that the media started covering ChatGPT at the end of November 2022 and the coverage has been all over the place. I also want to observe that news reports and social media threads are full of debate about whether ChatGPT is a tool that will help students cheat or help students learn. I also want to note that journalists and other content creators aren't sure how to assess whether it's a threat to their jobs or not. Finally, I’d like to answer these questions: What should educators think about ChatGPT? What should media professionals think about ChatGPT? What kind of impact will ChatGPT have on our world?

I entered the text above into OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool and clicked “submit.” Et voila! Instant director’s note. Everything within the quotation marks and italics below was produced in response to my prompt. What do you think?

The emergence of ChatGPT has been met with much debate and confusion since it first made headlines late in November 2022. On one hand, many see the tool as a potential way to help students cheat on tests or assignments. On the other hand, some say that ChatGPT could be used as an educational aid for those who are struggling to understand certain concepts.

“As media professionals grapple with how to cover this new technology, they must consider whether it poses a threat to their jobs or not. After all, if ChatGPT can generate content quickly and accurately then there may be less demand for human writers and journalists. However, at the same time, media professionals can leverage this technology by using its capabilities in innovative ways that will enhance their work rather than replace them entirely.

“Educators also need to think about how best to use this technology in order to ensure that students are learning effectively without relying too heavily on automated assistance from tools like ChatGPT. The key is finding a balance between using AI-powered platforms like ChatGPT while still providing students with meaningful instruction from teachers and instructors who have subject matter expertise.

“ChatGPT has certainly generated plenty of discussion since its debut late last year and it's clear that its impact on our world is yet unknown – though likely significant given the speed at which artificial intelligence continues to develop today! Media professionals should approach covering this topic objectively while keeping an open mind regarding both its potential risks and benefits so they can provide readers with accurate information about what lies ahead for us all when it comes to AI-driven technologies like ChatGPT.”

I’m not sure what to make of the short commentary ChatGPT generated from my prompt. Sure, it’s serviceable – but unremarkable. Is it a threat? I guess it depends on your perspective. As a professor who’s graded thousands of samples of student work, I’m not sure how I’d assign a letter grade to this. It’s a lot of words, strung together in a grammatically correct fashion. But the analysis isn’t setting the world on fire. As a media professional, I feel a bit uneasy. If it’s this simple to assemble a collection of basic facts, conventional wisdom, and facile analysis, then there’s probably a threat to those who focus only on the “who,” “what” and “when.” But the “why” and “how” is where the real value in journalism (and other analysis) lies. ChatGPT doesn’t seem to have mastered that. Yet.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 1, 2023 02:57 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 02:24 PM
Emily Metzgar, School of Media and Journalism Director