Now in the News: ‘Daily Mirror’ And ‘Daily Express’ Publisher Explores ChatGPT

February 24, 2023

Postmedia Announces Gazette Community Advisory Council

Following a groundswell of support for the Montreal Gazette and local journalism, Postmedia announced the creation of a Community Advisory Council charged with helping to strengthen the sustainability of the 245-year-old newspaper.

“It is heartening to see the groundswell of support for the Gazette. We are in the business of providing local coverage and journalistic excellence — it is at the core of what we do. But communities must understand that it is a business, we are not a government utility. Working together we can harness this support to grow advertising and subscription revenues and build a lasting and sustainable future for the Gazette,” said Andrew MacLeod, president and CEO of Postmedia.

The creation of the Council follows the difficult decision by Postmedia, owner of the Gazette, to undertake several transformational initiatives including editorial staff reductions that have varied by city, leaving the Gazette newsroom among the largest of Postmedia’s broadsheet markets. This and other transformation initiatives have been implemented recently in order to transform the business by changing how it operates while managing cost and mitigating revenue decline.

Council members will be announced next week. They represent a cross-section of Montrealers who cherish the Gazette as the voice for English language representation in the province. It will be comprised of politicians, business and community leaders who believe in the vital role of local journalism. The role of the Council will be to offer advice, support and strategies to help drive revenue and will play no role in editorial direction or content.

“We’re very appreciative of how Montrealers have rallied around the Gazette and look forward to measuring the impact the Council has on the Gazette’s future,” said MacLeod.

‘Daily Mirror’ And ‘Daily Express’ Publisher Explores ChatGPT

British publisher Reach PLC is exploring the use of ChatGPT in its newspapers: The Daily Mirror and Daily Express. The function would not be to write articles, but to support reporters covering such subjects as weather and traffic, Financial Times reports. The company has set up a working group to examine these possibilities.

However, the move caused concern for the National Union of Journalists. “I am concerned that the company hasn’t spoken to us in the first place as there’s a potential impact on jobs,” said Chris Morley, the Reach coordinator for the union. “We’re going through 200 job losses in the group, it’s been a painful process” Note: The job losses were not caused by ChatGPT.

The Daily Mirror and Daily Express would not be the first periodicals to try Open AI’s ChatGPT and other generative AI tools.

The experience to date points to problems. The CNET team had launched “a test using an internally designed AI engine – not ChatGPT – to help editors create a set of basic explainers around financial services topics,” CNET Editor-In- Chief Connie Guglielmo wrote in blog post.

Someone cited a factual error (“rightly,” Guglielmo admits) and the team performed a full audit. Some stories required “correction, with a small number requiring substantial correction and several stories with minor issues such as incomplete company names, transposed numbers or language that our senior editors viewed as vague,” Guglielmo reports.

Worse, an AI-driven article in the Arena Group’s Men’s Journal titled, “What All Men Should Know About Low Testosterone.” was riddled with factual errors.

Bradley Anawalt, the chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center, “reviewed the article and told Futurism that it contained “persistent factual mistakes and mischaracterizations of medical science that provide readers with a profoundly warped understanding of health issues,” Futurism reported.

Buffalo News Moving Print Operations, Spelling Uncertainty For Jobs, College Papers

Another big change is coming to The Buffalo News.The news outlet says its parent company is planning to move printing operations out of the Queen City, opting for Ohio instead.

The Buffalo News says the process of notifying staff who would be impacted by this change began Monday morning. They say roughly 160 jobs will be affected, including those involved in the printing and distribution of the paper, “and other products printed at the press building on Scott Street.”

The current plan is to close the Scott Street facility and start printing at The Plain Dealer’s facility in Cleveland sometime “later this year,” they wrote.

The change comes after The Buffalo News’ owner, Lee Enterprises, sold its longtime base at Washington and Scott and moved to Larkinville this past October. The current presses, which were installed in 2004, will be decommissioned once operations are moved, they say.

Changes coming for clients Anthony Decicco, editor-in-chief of the UB Spectrum campus newspaper, says the future for them is unclear. The University at Buffalo is one of the college papers that utilize the Scott Street street facility. “We’re really not sure what our status really is,” Decicco says of the new announcement. Decicco says the Spectrum team plans to meet later on Monday afternoon to discuss what’s ahead.

Julia Barth serves as editor-in-chief of Canisius College’s newspaper, The Griffin. She says Canisius “has been using The Buffalo News print shop to publish for years now.” Like the UB Spectrum, it’s not clear what’s in store for the future of The Griffin’s print production. “We weren’t reached out to by anybody about the changes, so I’d assume they are working our newspaper into their plans.

Barth says they’ve reached out to The Buffalo News for answers. “College newspapers rely on bigger organizations to print their editions since obviously, a school like Canisius can’t afford to do that themselves,” Barth said. “So, I hope we are able to continue our partnership with the News since, otherwise, we’d have to look elsewhere to print our paper, something we hope to not have to do.”

For now, Barth is just hoping The Griffin can keep getting published on Scott Street “through the end of the school year.” “That way, we will have the summer to figure things out,” Barth says.

Microsoft In Talks With Publishers Over Bing AI Chatbot

Microsoft is in talks with publishers about how they can control which of their content is used to inform responses given by its new Bing artificial intelligence chatbot. The company said conversations are just beginning, but that it intends to update technical guidelines for publishers as needed in the months ahead.

Microsoft’s chatbot feature – launched in “preview” mode within its Bing search engine earlier this month – promises to provide direct answers to users’ questions using generative AI, rather than directing them to third-party sites.

Publishers have expressed concerns that the chatbot, and others like it, could threaten their business models if they result in search engines directing less traffic to their sites. They’ve also bemoaned a lack of clarity from Microsoft and other generative AI companies about how their content is being used to inform the responses given by chatbots, whether publishers can prevent chatbots from weaving their content and information into responses, and – ultimately

– if it’s even worth trying to stop them.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Toolkits that Bing’s chat function only draws from content that publishers have opted to make visible to it, but that Microsoft is “in conversation with publishers and will be updating technical guidelines as needed.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether all publisher content that’s made accessible to Bing’s crawlers is currently eligible to appear in chatbot responses, however, or whether Microsoft will enable publishers to control what information collected by the company’s crawlers might be surfaced in chatbot responses specifically. “As the new Bing experience is currently in preview these conversations are beginning and we’ll have more to share over time,” the spokesperson said.

Publishing executives say they’re looking for clarity about how their content is being used by AI chatbots, including whether chatbots are pulling information from paywalled content. Publishing trade groups are raising concerns on behalf of their members, as well. “Unless there’s a specific agreement in place, there’s just really no revenue coming back to news publications. And it is highly problematic for our industry,” Danielle Coffey, executive vice president and general counsel at News Media Alliance told Wired.

In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella acknowledged that publishers would likely attempt to limit Bing’s access to their content if Microsoft ceases sending traffic to their sites or otherwise uses their content in a way that undermines their business models.

“The search category is about fair use so we can generate traffic back to publishers… Our bots are not going to be allowed to crawl if we are not driving traffic,” he said, adding, “At the end of the day I don’t think any of this can be done without a framework of law that governs it, and ultimately financial incentives that benefit [publishers].”