Microsoft announces collaborations with news organizations to bring generative AI to the newsroom.
The projects aim to help journalists with research, sourcing, translation, and other tasks. They include a collaboration with Semafor to develop AI-based tools for news research, and the creation of the AI Journalism Lab at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
The Online News Association launches an AI in Journalism Initiative program, while the GroundTruth Project launches an AI tracker for its members. Nota, an AI startup, brings its AI tools to improve editorial processes in more than 100 newsrooms with support from Microsoft. Participating organizations will have access to Microsoft experts, technology and other support.
Microsoft says the “goal is to find ways to support journalists in this mission, not replace them,” and that the collaboration is an effort to support democracy.
Microsoft has been criticized for its use of generative AI on its news platform MSN.com, where automatically generated news stories spread false information. The company’s Bing chatbot also spread false information about the election.
In addition, the technology inherently reduces traffic to publishers’ websites because the chatbot generates answers rather than directing users to a website, as traditional search does.
OpenAI and other AI companies are also fighting with publishers over whether it is fair to use their news and articles to train their models, even if the AI companies have not licensed the content. Recently, OpenAI and Apple have reportedly and officially made deals with publishers to use their content.
GPT for news research
The most interesting project seems to be Semafor’s MISO (“multilingual insight search optimizer”), a kind of news search GPT that translates a search prompt into different languages and searches for foreign and rare sources using the Bing web algorithm. A screenshot of the tool posted by The Verge looks like a well-made GPT bot.
However, given the qualities of the Bing algorithm and the fact that many news organizations block ChatGPT crawling, this type of news search is likely to serve at most as a supplement to other research tools.