"We have really embraced AI as an opportunity, and not some sort of bogeyman that's lurking in the newsroom."

Old Dog, New Tricks

Reporting from Nieman Lab reveals that Newsweek, a 90-year-old journalistic institution, is using AI extensively in its newsroom.

Per Nieman, Newsweek first updated its editorial standards to allow the use of text-generating AI tools back in September 2023, writing that "Newsweek believes that AI tools can help journalists work faster, smarter and more creatively."

"We firmly believe that soon all journalists will be working with AI in some form," the updated guidelines continue, "and we want our newsroom to embrace these technologies as quickly as is possible in an ethical way."

Now, six months into Newsweek's AI shift, it appears that the institution's AI optimism remains unshaken. As Nieman reports, a fairly recent job listing for a position as live news editor declares that the "successful candidate will help to lead a team of reporters using AI and other tools to enhance their reporting." And in an interview with Nieman, Newsweek's new executive editor Jennifer Cunningham further doubled down on the belief that AI will dictate newsrooms' future success.

"I think that the difference between newsrooms that embrace AI and newsrooms that shun AI is really going to prove itself over the next several months and years," Cunningham told Nieman. "We have really embraced AI as an opportunity, and not some sort of bogeyman that's lurking in the newsroom."

Bumper Sticker

Cunningham told Nieman that Newsweek ultimately sees AI as a productivity booster — a familiar stance among AI-optimistic media executives — saying that "we would really like reporters to be able to devote their workday to journalistic output and not the parts of journalism that are a little bit more process-oriented." She also noted that Newsweek has no plans to cut jobs in favor of automated tools.

As far as AI disclosures go, Newsweek's updated policies stipulate that journalists are required to disclose any use of AI to their editors. Interestingly, though, while Newsweek includes a link to its AI guidelines at the foot of its articles inviting visitors to "read how Newsweek uses AI as a newsroom tool," it doesn't appear to include explicit AI disclaimers on AI-assisted posts. This post that it provided to Nieman as an example of an AI-assisted news hit, for instance, never actually tells readers that AI was used in its production; it simply links back to the policies like every other story.

Cunningham told Nieman that "ethically, it's important" to "make sure that the reader that we're serving is very clear about the use of this technology in the content he or she is viewing or reading." We would agree, though it's unclear how useful Newsweek's very general "we might be using AI here" sticker really is to that effect.

More on AI and journalism: Google Quietly Paying Journalists to Generate Articles Using Unreleased AI

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