Publisher announces plans for using AI to write content

Using AI
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Artificial Intelligence (AI)  has dominated the media industry headlines so far this year. Much of the hype around the subject has surrounded the rise of ChatGPT, a chatbot that demonstrates advanced conversational capabilities. But beyond the buzz, publishers are starting to look at using AI to create content for their sites.

  • ChatGPT from OpenAI has hit the headlines because of the quality of  the written responses it provides to specific text prompts. With more than 1 million users in its first five days after launching, the chatbot has caught the public imagination and prompted a great deal of discussion around the long-term future of artificial intelligence in publishing.
  • While there have been concerns about robots replacing humans and spreading inaccuracies and even misinformation, media organizations are already investigating AI’s potential to create content.
  • Writing in What’s New In Publishing,  Cecilia Campbell of newsroom- automation providers United Robots, reminds publishers that they are in the driving seat:

ChatGPT is just a tool – albeit a brand new, powerful tool with huge scope, but a tool nonetheless. It does not change the guiding principles of journalism

Buzzfeed’s AI plan
  • In a staff memo at the end of January, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote that AI will play a role in the editorial and business operations at the digital media company within the next 12 months. He said:

If the past 15 years of the internet have been defined by algorithmic feeds that curate and recommend content, the next 15 years will be defined by AI and data helping create, personalize, and animate the content itself.

  • In the announcement, Peretti said Buzzfeed would work with ChatGPT developer OpenAI to create tools to help create content for its audiences. The initial focus is on quizzes, a content format that Buzzfeed is famous for.
Stock market response
  • Buzzfeed has endured some difficult times recently, laying off 12% of it’s staff late in 2022. But, alongside a content deal with Meta, the news that the publisher would be using AI in content creation sent its stock price soaring more than 280%.
  • With Buzzfeed still in the early days of experimenting with AI, some analysts were surprised by the scale of the stock market reaction. But others have said BuzzFeed’s quizzes “appear most ripe” for ChatGPT-style automation.
Staff reaction

Some Buzzfeed staff have expressed concerns that generative AI will damage the quality of content produced by Buzzfeed. However, others have said that they are ‘looking forward to the AI integration’.

A BuzzFeed spokesperson told Insider that its AI tool will not fully create the quizzes – BuzzFeed staff will be responsible for writing the quizzes and the AI will be used to generate an infinite number of responses. One staffer told Insider :

I think the actual applications of how this will apply to new quiz formats is exciting.

In the longer term, Buzzfeed’s strategy is to “build the premier platform for AI-powered content”. In the memo sent to staff by Peretti, he stated that the goal was to “maximize the success” of its content creators in an effort to cut costs and stay financially afloat.

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