WIUM Tristates Public Radio

"Deepfakes" and Journalism

Mar 23, 2021

The BBC reported that a few months ago, millions of TV viewers across South Korea were watching the MBN channel to catch the latest news. At the top of the hour, regular news anchor Kim Joo-Ha started to go through the day's headlines. It was a relatively normal list of stories for late 2020. Yet, the BBC said, this particular update was far from normal.

Kim Joo-Ha wasn't actually on the screen. Instead she had been replaced by a "deepfake" version of herself - a computer-generated copy that aims to perfectly reflect her voice, gestures, and facial expressions.

Viewers had been informed beforehand that this was going to happen. The BBC said South Korea media reported viewers had a mixed reaction. Some were amazed at how realistic it was. Others said they were worried that the real Kim Joo-Ha might lose her job.

Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion about journalism issues.  This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier, the students at student radio station The Dog, and the WIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; Rajvee Subramanian, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.

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