Embracing Generative AI: Navigating the Publishing Industry’s Dance with Uncertainty and Hesitation

By Aimee Roberts and Arabella Stephenson

July 20, 2023

6 mins read


Embracing Generative AI: Navigating the Publishing Industry’s Dance with Uncertainty and Hesitation

By Aimee Roberts and Arabella Stephenson

July 20, 2023

6 mins read


The publishing industry, like many others, has embraced the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years. Generative AI, in particular, has emerged as a powerful tool for content creation and streamlining workflows. As media executives seek cost efficiencies and new revenue streams, they are turning to AI-powered solutions to meet these challenges head-on. A recent survey released by the World Association of News Publishers uncovered that nearly half of newsrooms are now “actively” working with generative AI tools.

 

However, as AI continues to gain prominence in the Publishing Sector, it sparks critical questions about finding the right balance between efficiency and creativity, safeguarding editorial integrity and content quality. These concerns have ignited a crucial dialogue and media outlets are seeking ways to harness AI’s potential while ensuring the continued growth and integrity of the field.

 

How AI is Transforming Publishing for the Better

 

In the fast-evolving media landscape, publishers fiercely compete for readers’ attention and engagement, with the use of AI being touted as an important tool for editorial content creation and is already being employed in various ways.

 

Increased Efficiency: The use of AI to automate tasks like fact-checking and proofreading, alongside the ability to simplify tasks such as adjusting images, and efficiently filter through archives. Forbes launched an AI machine learning platform, Bertie, which is integrated into their CMS and has the capabilities to assist journalists to optimise headlines, generate descriptions and recommend images. The platform is a great example of the use of AI being used as an assistive technology and optimising journalists’ performances.

 

Content Generation: AI can even be used as a content producer, to generate articles or videos. AI-created content can offer unique advantages over human-created content, particularly in areas where speed and efficiency are crucial.  Buzzfeed is already using AI to generate content and it recently launched its AI-powered Infinity Quizzes to generate personalised and unique responses for its users.

 

Personalisation: AI-powered recommendation systems to personalise content for readers based on their preferences or previous actions have the potential to increase retention as well as deliver more targeted marketing and monetisation strategies. The Wall Street Journal uses a dynamic paywall powered by AI which adapts to the reader’s behaviours. This allows them to track a reader’s behaviour and to optimise exactly when it restricts a reader’s access to articles in an effort to generate new subscribers. 

An image of a robots working as a journalists created with AI-powered application Dall E

Navigating the Unknown: The Risks and Challenges of AI in Publishing

 

As AI infiltrates content creation, there are inherent risks and challenges. AI offers the chance for publishers to deliver personalised  information and content  formats, to help deal with channel fragmentation and information overload. However, automated editing processes might compromise content quality and authenticity, leading to homogenisation and a lack of diversity in content. 

 

The level of inaccuracies present in AI generated content was recently exemplified by the technology news site CNET, who had been quietly publishing wholly AI generated articles until they were uncovered to be full of inaccuraciesAs more and more publications pivot towards AI due to its purported cost efficiencies, it’s worth remembering the dark side behind its application as more and more publications lay off staff, as well as prevent the access to entry level jobs. This was seen recently when the publication Insider laid off 10% of its employees (while simultaneously touting its interest in using Chat GPT to encourage the creation of content). 

 

Transparency in the Age of AI: Why Media Companies Must Publish AI Policies and Guidelines

 

The emergence of AI has emphasised the necessity for media companies to publish guidelines regarding its use. With only 20% of respondents clarifying that their news organisations have put any guidelines into place around the use of AI into their reporting, the risk of plagiarism and poor reporting remains a risk with the use of AI. Some published guidelines restrict specific uses of AI, while others focus on governance and accepting responsibility to reduce AI-related risks. The guidelines often mention the need for cautious experimentation, encouraging curiosity and critical thinking while highlighting the potential for innovation.

 

  • News Corp currently hasn’t published any policies on the use of AI within its media companies. At a recent  conference, Robert Thomson, the CEO voiced concern over the threat to media’s collective intellectual property and added that AI wasdesigned so the reader will never visit a journalism website, thus fatally undermining that journalism.” However, News Corp Australia has asked its Australian employees to try ChatGPT and has set up a working group to explore how AI can add “high-value opportunities” across its consumer, finance, editorial, and tech divisions.

 

  • The Guardian commits to transparency in using generative AI for original journalism. Whereas,Wired has published that it will avoid AI-generated stories but will experiment with AI for tasks like headlines and social media content.

 

  • The Financial Times values AI for productivity and preserving human reporting quality. The FT has stated that their journalism will remain human-driven and has  FT established an in-house team to responsibly experiment with AI tools like data mining and translation.

 

Unlocking the Power of AI in Publishing: Augmentation, Filtering, and Responsible Integration

 

AI is not about the total automation of content production from start to finish. It goes beyond complete automation and serves as an augmentation tool. Empowering professionals to leverage their strengths and work more efficiently. Just like human journalism, AI tools have their limitations, and caution must be exercised in their use. The true value of AI lies not just in content generation but also in its ability to filter vast amounts of information, distinguishing truth from fiction and highlighting crucial insights.

 

To make the most of AI’s potential, media companies should approach it thoughtfully, engaging in discussions and experiments while establishing guiding principles. Rather than replacing human creativity, AI should be seen as an enabler for better content creation. By striking the right balance between human expertise and AI assistance, content production can experience a revolutionary shift, leading to responsible and impactful reporting amid the rising tide of machine-generated content. As we navigate this transformative era, a well-integrated approach to AI will be key to shaping the future of publishing. 


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