[London School of Economics JournalismAI] How to think about AI for news? - Ritvvij Parrikh [London School of Economics JournalismAI] How to think about AI for news? | Ritvvij Parrikh Humane ClubMade in Humane Club

[London School of Economics JournalismAI] How to think about AI for news?

26 JUL 2023 Wednesday 12:30 Asia/Kolkata
Duration :
3 hour(s)
Journalism Ai Training
Block Pattern: Regular

Competing against BigTech

A media CXO on OpenAI using their archive to train GPT.

They came, they scraped, they went.

The Generative AI Wave

Let’s evaluate the Generative AI wave through the above lens

Surfing BigTech’s waves

  • By building on OpenAI, will a newsroom be able to build competitive differentiation? No. Because everyone else has access to it.
  • In fact, LLM is the latest technology that is forcing newsrooms to move more inland into cost-heavy operations like fact-finding and writing the first draft. Many of the You’ll spend days investigating and in seconds it will get scrapped out.


  • Will we’ve newsrooms and editorial leaders obsessing over the nuances of prompt-writing so we can get it just right? We already do. Will it lead to competitive differentiation? No!

Economic viability

  • Can we afford to build our own LLMs? It would take upwards of a few million USD in GPU server costs to train a LLM.
  • Can a newsroom afford to build demand-side, i.e., audience-facing LLM products? No. Because the cost of serving a cached page from CDN is 1/1000th the cost of a meaningful Q&A with OpenAI APIs. The unit economics doesn’t add up.

Jobs for the AI Wave

To answer this, I would like to pick up three slides from Ezra Eeman’s presentation at WAN IFRA where he used a clean framework for categorizing how AI can help newsrooms.

He splits all AI investments into three buckets: Automate, Augment, and Transform. We went through each of these tasks and each of the 9 newsrooms tagged whether they’d like to use AI for each of these tasks in their newsroom.

Automate with AI

These are those tasks that can potentially be fully automated leaving staff to pick up more sophisticated tasks. These tend to be repetitive tasks that if automated can boost productivity.

Automate news with AI
TaskWant to useDon’t want to useDin’t tag
Editorial Analytics88.89%11.11%11.11%
Automated tagging88.89%0.00%11.11%
Surface relevant stories88.89%0.00%11.11%
Image cropping and editing66.67%11.11%22.22%
Predictive planning55.56%11.11%33.33%
Text to speech55.56%22.22%22.22%
Data structuring44.44%11.11%44.44%
Comment moderation33.33%22.22%44.44%
Automated stories33.33%44.44%22.22%
Print automation11.11%22.22%66.67%

Augment with AI

These are tasks where a human augmented with AI can perform much better than a human or AI alone. This typically involves combining the pattern recognition of AI in tasks that require deep judgment.

Augment news with AI
TaskWant to useDon’t want to useDin’t tag
Headline prediction88.89%0.00%11.11%
Content ideation66.67%0.00%33.33%
Detect trends66.67%11.11%22.22%
Promotion monitoring66.67%11.11%22.22%
Bias Detection44.44%33.33%22.22%
Archive optimization44.44%11.11%44.44%
Content mix33.33%22.22%44.44%
Content variation33.33%22.22%44.44%
Intelligent paywall and propensity models22.22%66.67%11.11%

Transform with AI

Finally, there are tasks that can completely be rethought or reinvented for the coming years using AI.

Transform news with AI
TaskWant to useDon’t want to useDin’t tag
Contextual personalization of formats77.78%22.22%0.00%
Content performance55.56%0.00%44.44%
AI crowdsourcing33.33%33.33%33.33%
Generated interfaces33.33%22.22%44.44%
New bots33.33%22.22%44.44%
Conversational archives33.33%22.22%44.44%
Synthetic avatars11.11%44.44%44.44%


Below are some other ideas that the cohort came up with:

  • Predict the best times to publish
  • Archive all PDFs published by the government
  • Scrape, clean, warehouse data published by the government
  • Recommend experts to interview for a story
  • Personalized greetings
  • Automate explanatory news
  • Automate story writing from datasets
  • Auto hyperlink content from archive in new stories and maintain it
  • Auto check the company’s style guide