News Organizations Team Up with AI Companies

The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Bryan Lynn,July 26, 2023  ( learningenglish )-Several major news organizations have teamed up with artificial intelligence (AI) developers to find new tools to help journalists do their work.

AI developer OpenAI recently signed a deal with the American Journalism Project (AJP) to use AI tools to support local news across the United States. OpenAI is backed by American software maker Microsoft. The AJP is a nonprofit group that provides financial assistance to local nonprofit U.S. news organizations.

Late last year, OpenAI released an AI tool called ChatGPT. ChatGPT and other so-called “chatbots” have demonstrated the ability to lead human-like discussions and produce complex writing based on short, written commands. Such tools are also known as “generative AI” or “large language models.”

In its deal with the AJP, OpenAI promised to provide $5 million to expand the project’s work and strengthen local journalism efforts. OpenAI is also offering the AJP an additional $5 million to help local news organizations deploy the latest AI tools.

Sarabeth Berman is head of the American Journalism Project. She said in a statement the cooperation with OpenAI aims to ensure that local news organizations can help shape the ways AI is used in journalism. Berman added, the partnership seeks to find ways for AI to improve journalism, “rather than imperil” it.

In addition, the partnership aims to support AJP’s efforts to “create healthier information ecosystems” at the local level to fight misinformation in news. The deal will help create a studio that can be used by local news organizations to experiment with OpenAI’s technology.

The AJP’s deal with OpenAI is one of several partnerships recently established between AI developers and news organizations.

Earlier this month, OpenAI announced it had signed a deal with The Associated Press to license the news agency’s collection of news stories. OpenAI will use AP’s news stories to train and develop its chatbot tool. No financial details of the deal were announced.

In addition, the two companies said in a statement they are examining how the AP could use “generative AI in news products and services.”

The deal came after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) informed OpenAI it had opened an investigation into whether the company had taken part in unfair business activities. The investigation reportedly centers on whether OpenAI violated trade rules by training its language model on publicly available data.

Some news organizations, book writers and other creative artists have brought legal actions or sought compensation from companies that used their works to train AI systems.

The AP said it currently does not use any generative AI in its news story production. But it has long used other forms of AI. This includes a system that automatically produces corporate earnings stories and some sports reports.

U.S.-based search engine Google also recently confirmed it was in talks with major news publishers about using a new AI tool it developed to help journalists report and write their stories. The project was first reported by The New York Times. The tool is being tested by the Times, as well as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the French news agency AFP reported.

The Times said the AI tool – which Google calls Genesis – was still in early form testing. However, a demonstration of the system reportedly left newspaper officials “unsettled” when they saw the tool’s abilities.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed in a statement the company had held discussions with news publishers on providing AI-based tools “to help their journalists with their work.” The tool being tested was designed to do things like help journalists choose headlines and write in different styles, the Times reported.

The spokeswoman added that such tools were not meant to “replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating and fact-checking” their stories.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters, AFP and the American Journalism Project.