Gauging Generative AI’s Impact in Newsrooms



#AI #chatgpt #tech

Generative AI is not a new technology. In fact, it has been around since 2014 in some form. But fast-forward to November of last year when OpenAI, the founder of ChatGPT, decided to release a test version of the chatbot to the public. It was admittedly a last resort for the company to see how users might interact with the tool after numerous setbacks over the previous year.

Within five days of the release, ChatGPT already had 1 million users; after 100 days, 100 million – making it the fastest-growing consumer application ever, according to a number of sources.

Some of the leading tech minds in the world and in media have heralded Generative AI as THE next-generation technology. For publishers, it seemingly offers great potential for workflow efficiencies, text creation, correction, search/ research, translations – all things that most say will free up journalists and editors to focus on producing core, quality content but also improving along the way. But it also offers opportunities in personalisation and topic ideations, for example.

On the other side of the coin, Generative AI, particularly chatbots, present a number of questions, challenges and serious concerns: in this current iteration, it is indeed a nascent technology, but developing rapidly. Mistakes have already popped up. Essentially, the tools need to “learn” more and more, and they need to be tested and tested – both by the creators behind the technology and those on the frontlines like publishers experimenting with it. Preventing spreading of misinformation, data privacy, regulation – just like we continue to litigate with social media, for example, is even more in play with GenAI.

So with all this taken into consideration, WAN-IFRA opted for a focused, not-so exhaustive global survey to send to newsroom editors, journalists, and other newsroom staff to get a good barometer of where they stand so far on using this technology. We received more than 100 responses from participants all over the world.

Some of the key questions involved the actual use cases thriving so far and potential of those and others. Who is driving the adoption of GenAI in newsrooms? How will this impact roles and responsibilities in the newsroom? What sort of resistance is in play – or not? What are the major concerns? And more…

The results paint a picture of optimism, some scepticism, great potential, experimentation in motion, challenges to overcome, opportunities to be had. But it appears that news orgs are not sitting on the sidelines as has been their “MO” over the years with such sweeping possible change.

It’s a topic that WAN-IFRA will continue to cover extensively to shed light on its development.

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Dean Roper