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Global news publishers prepare to address impact of AI

As they seek to protect their work from being used without permission or compensation, newsroom unions are initiating discussions to include AI language in their contracts. 

With artificial intelligence making inroads in the news industry, it is preparing itself to make the most of the technology to improve output. However, there are several concerns over its use.

Publishers are seeking to protect their work from being used without permission or compensation. They are seeking compensation when artificial intelligence uses its content as a source or a development tool. Some news outlets, like The New York Times and News Corp, have already negotiated deals with Alphabet’s Google.

On Thursday, the Associated Press signed a two-year deal with OpenAI, ChatGPT's parent company, to share access to select news content and technology.

In one of the first official news-sharing agreements made between a major U.S. news company and an artificial intelligence firm, OpenAI will license some of the AP’s text archive dating back to 1985 to help train its artificial intelligence algorithms. In return, the AP will get access to OpenAI’s technology and product expertise.

Last month, Wall Street Journal reported that amid concerns of AI reshaping the industry, major news publishers are looking to form a coalition to examine the impact of artificial intelligence on the news industry. Staff at New York Times, News Corp and Vox Media, have discussed the possibility of a coalition.

According to a Financial Times report, OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and Adobe have met news executives at News Corp, Axel Springer, The New York Times and The Guardian, to discuss copyright issues around their AI products.

The use of artificial intelligence to gain knowledge on subject matters is also raising concerns of decreased traffic on news websites.

The AP was one of the first major national news organisations to use automation technology in its news report. About a decade ago, it began automating corporate earnings reports and local sporting events. It has since expanded its use of automation in other parts of the news-gathering and production processes.

However, it has not yet used generative AI in its news stories.

Some newsrooms are already generating content with AI. They are testing the use of AI technology to generate articles and creating SEO-driven content. It is also being used to optimise headlines and article summaries.

Most of these newsrooms did not have preliminary discussions about its use with the unions and the employees they represent. Many of their jobs are at risk with the technology.

The unions are pushing back, urging managements to pause these efforts and include AI language in their contracts. Many are demanding new terms on using the technology and its impact on the employees and editorial production.

Insider’s union concluded a contract that the newsroom will have at least one union member involved in conversations about using new tech and the resources to learn to use it. FT’s trade publications are seeking to have new technology like AI as a subject of bargaining with company management. Dow Jones’ union IAPE proposed, as part of their ongoing contract negotiations, that AI tools will not “displace” union members.

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