by Kevin Rehberg, Vice President, Client Development
Artificial intelligence chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s BingGPT have generated lots of buzz lately, much of it centered around how helpful or harmful these tools might be for media companies. While the helpful camp welcomes the benefits of assisting reporters with initial research, aggregating data and performing basic copy editing, others argue that these programs may also accelerate the spread of misinformation and fake news sites, which can compete with legitimate publishers for readers’ attention and advertising.
While newsrooms have been using AI tools to some degree for years, the technology has recently become more advanced and widespread, making it harder to determine whether copy was written by a human or generated by a bot. Publishers committed to industry standards and best practices need to find ways to stand out from lesser quality websites.
Oddly enough, even ChatGPT agrees that publishers need to find ways to distinguish themselves from non-human creators. When asked how digital publishers can stand out from AI-generated content, it responded:
“As AI-generated content becomes increasingly prevalent, media companies must find ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. While AI can produce articles and other types of content at a rapid pace, there are certain aspects of digital publishing that only a human touch can provide.”
What are those human touches? Fact-checking, vetting sources and objective reporting, to name a few. As a legitimate digital publisher, you already do these things, but do you get credit for them?
Here are three initiatives designed to help media companies stand apart from artificial content and get more credit for their good work.
Showcase your commitment to journalism standards and ethics
As more publishers use AI tools, questions may arise about whether they followed journalistic standards during the content creation process.
The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) is a certification program launched by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to help quality media outlets demonstrate their commitment to creating transparent, ethical journalism. The program includes certification against the JTI Standard — a set of transparency standards developed to measure media outlets’ production of trustworthy content.
“It’s really important to be able to distinguish between trusted news and misinformation,” said Beth Potter, Ph.D., U.S. regional manager for JTI. “We as journalists are not marketing ourselves well enough. We need to stand up as a group and let the world know we have rules and policies in place that lesser-quality content providers do not have.”
The three-step JTI certification process includes a self-assessment, a public disclosure in the form of a Transparency Report and a third-party audit to confirm the organization’s adherence to the JTI Standard. Once certified, media outlets can display the JTI mark to let advertisers know they are committed to following industry standards that lead to the creation of trustworthy content.
Recognize your industry connections and memberships
Quality media outlets often take an active role in the industry and participate in groups like Digital Content Next and the Alliance for Audited Media to promote quality media and industry standards.
Trust.txt is a framework developed by non-profit organization JournalList to help organizations earn recognition for their relationships with trusted industry organizations and associations. Similar to Ads.txt, publishers place a Trust.txt file on their websites that publicly lists industry memberships, owned domains and social media accounts. Industry organizations are also encouraged to create a file listing their members. The goal is to help search engines recognize the legitimate connections between media companies and industry associations.
“A great many of us depend on unreliable mechanisms to find reliable news online,” said Mark Stencel, executive director of JournalList. “Tech companies shouldn’t be the ones who decide what is and what is not ‘news.’ Journalism organizations should. JournalList’s Trust.txt files are a simple and efficient way to make that possible.”
Get certified for creating balanced, reliable content
Brand safety has been an increasing concern as advertisers find ways to prevent their ads from running on websites that don’t align with their brand values or create misleading content.
Ad Fontes Media developed its interactive Media Bias Chart® in response to increases in misinformation and media polarization. By creating a methodology to rate sources for reliability and media bias, Ad Fontes offers a tool to help advertisers and consumers find trusted sources of news and information. The group rates everything from websites, linear and connected TV, YouTube channels, podcasts and newsletters.
“When people say they don’t trust media, they lump quality news sources with those that create questionable content,” said Vanessa Otero, CEO and founder of Ad Fontes Media. “We want to elevate quality publishers and showcase their good work and commitment to transparency.”
The Alliance for Audited Media recently partnered with Ad Fontes to create a custom media bias chart featuring AAM-audited publishers, which Otero says tend to be among the most reliable, trustworthy sources Ad Fontes rates across the news landscape.
“Advertisers use the chart to create inclusion lists based on media bias and reliability ratings,” Otero said. “The chart helps advertisers support reliable and trustworthy sources while safeguarding their brands.”
Advertisers also use our AAM Audited Domain List, a list of digital publishers who have completed the AAM Digital Publisher Audit, to create inclusion lists and direct more of their investment toward publishers that have been vetted by a third party. The audit gives media companies another tool to help stand out for their adherence to industry standards and best practices for sourcing website traffic.
The future is in publishers’ hands
As AI technology continues to evolve, it will only continue to become more challenging to separate content written by humans from articles generated by chatbots. It’s even challenging for ChatGPT, which when asked about its ability to identify AI-generated content, replied:
“As an AI language model, I can analyze and generate text, but I cannot determine with 100% accuracy whether a piece of content was generated by a human or an AI system.”
While publishers may not be able to prevent the spread of chatbot-sourced content, they can control how their websites appear to readers, advertisers, and search engines. By implementing industry initiatives, publishers can do something the chatbots can’t do: prove that they are committed to standards and best practices and provide transparency about how their content was sourced and developed.