The Daily Mirror publisher is investigating the use of ChatGPT to help write local messages

The publisher of the Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers is investigating whether the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT could help journalists write short messages, while media organizations explore ways to use AI.

Reach chief executive Jim Mullen told the Financial Times the company set up a working group to study how the tool could be used to help human reporters compile coverage of topics like local weather and traffic.

“We commissioned a working group from our technical and editorial teams to explore the potential and limitations of machine learning like ChatGPT,” he said. “We see potential to use it in the future to assist our journalists with routine reports such as local traffic and weather, or to find creative uses for them outside of our traditional content areas.”

Newsrooms around the world are considering how advances in generative AI, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot, will impact the production of journalism.

BuzzFeed announced last month that it would be working with OpenAI, creators of ChatGPT, to help create its viral quizzes, while online news site CNET attempted to use the program to write economics statements before observers pointed out that it contained several errors.

Some news outlets have been experimenting with AI for years. Thomson Reuters has been using an internal program called Lynx Insight since 2018 to sift through information such as market data and find patterns for reporters.

Reach publishes more than 130 national and regional titles, including the Daily Record and the Manchester Evening News. Last month, the company warned that its full-year profit would come in lower than expected after being hit by cost inflation and lower advertising prices, particularly in print. It also said it would cut about 200 jobs across its editorial and commercial teams out of a total of 4,500 employees.

However, the group has expanded its presence into the US, opening an office in New York this year and launching online US versions of the Daily Express and the Irish Star to appeal to the US’s Irish American population.

Reach said research into potential uses of AI has more to do with adopting new technologies and leveraging data than with cost savings, adding that Reach now employs more journalists than it has at any time in the last 10 years.

Mullen said, “It’s very early days, but we see it as a tool to support our editorial teams, similar to the other technologies we already use.”

However. Chris Morley, the National Union of Journalists’ coordinator for Reach, expressed concern and said he would “seek meetings with the company.”

“I’m concerned that the company hasn’t spoken to us at all because of the potential impact on jobs,” he said. “We’re going through 200 job cuts in the group, it was a painful process.”

Francesco Marconi, co-founder of computer journalism company AppliedXL, who formerly worked on automation and AI at the Associated Press, said ChatGPT’s application in journalism would be in “support roles.”

“A framework to think about would be if GPT was an intern who can help you edit specific passages of reporting but cannot create original reporting,” he said. The Daily Mirror publisher is investigating the use of ChatGPT to help write local messages

Adam Bradshaw

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