Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

A refreshing weekend…

Last week Jeanine and I attended the WV Press Association Convention in Charleston. As has been the case in the past, the convention renewed my interest and commitment to this profession.

I always enjoy getting reacquainted with old friends as well as making new ones, particularly when we have common interests. We arrived just after noon on Thursday. First official action was the joint board meetings of West Virginia Press Association and WVPA Services. As you can imagine, there was a lot to discuss. Things are happening quickly in our industry, and I am proud to say the dedicated professionals who sit on these boards are on top of most of them. The WVPA Foundation Board, which I humbly serve as president of, meet after the Press Services and the Association meeting. Our foundation is primarily an educational one. We sponsor continuing education for professionals, scholarships and internships for the up-and-coming, and in general anything that the West Virginia newspaper industry needs.

Following the board meetings Don Smith, Executive Director of our organization, had organized a trip the ballpark for a Charleston Dirty Birds game. I am not a major baseball fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Friday’s activities began with a visit to the Charleston Gazette. I was impress with the changes they have made.

We had a luncheon announcing the winners of the state Ad Awards. More informative sessions followed in the afternoon.

The day concluded with a reception for outgoing president Perry Nardo.

Saturday began with the membership meeting which is a requirement of the WVPA bylaws. It was followed by a fantastic seminar on Artificial Intelligence (AI) titled “Artificial Intelligence, ethics and its implications for communications.” It was presented by Amy Cyphert, Professor of Law at the West Virginia University College of Law.

While all the seminars were beneficial, this was by far the best. Mrs. Cyphert gave valuable insight into AI, what it is, and how to use it effectively. Moreover, she clearly outlined what our industry should not rely on AI to produce. During her presentation, Cyphert told of how an attorney had used AI to help prepare a court brief. The generated documents sited court cases to back up AI’s claims. When the attorney ask AI if the cases were legitimate, the answer was yes. Well… it turned out that was not correct, and AI had put together fictitious cases to back up their argument. The bottom line is, and the presenter made it quite clear, that you can’t trust AI. It will lie to add validity to it’s claims.

She did say that we could use it to improve our writings and add content, but we should always fact check anything that comes from an AI source. I find the whole topic amazing.

For the record… this column was NOT generated by any AI source.