To Fear AI or Not to Fear AI? That’s the question publishers are asking.

October 16, 2023

By Kevin Rehberg, Vice President, Client Development


Artificial intelligence was top of mind at the America’s Newspapers’ Senior Leadership Conference, which was held last week in Chicago. The question many attendees asked: should publishers embrace AI to help streamline news and business operations or should they avoid it at all costs?

The overwhelming consensus: embrace it. AI has proven to be a useful tool to reduce the time spent on tedious tasks such as copy editing, developing content ideas and performing research.

But with that optimism comes a reality check. AI isn’t without challenges. Publishers need to establish guidelines and best practices when using AI to maintain transparency and trust with readers and advertisers. Emerging legal issues also make having an AI policy a necessity for newsrooms that implement these tools.

Another concern is the use of AI by bad actors to quickly create and disseminate misinformation. This not only hurts the public, but the practice harms publishers who must compete with fake websites for advertising revenue. As more reports surface about the proliferation of AI-generated websites, some feel the nefarious use of AI is spiraling out of control.

But here’s something publishers can control: their process for creating quality, trusted content. Now it’s time for publishers to stand out for their good work.

New programs are being created to help publishers get credit for following industry standards and best practices for editorial production. One such program, the Journalism Trust Initiative, is gaining momentum as a way for publishers to showcase their commitment to implementing industry standards for journalism ethics. It’s a three-step process that allows publishers to declare their editorial processes, publish a report to publicly share these processes, and receive verification from a JTI-approved third-party auditor that they adhere to the JTI Standard. Publishers can proudly share the resulting certification with readers and advertisers as proof of their commitment to quality and to help distinguish them from other websites that sell advertising.

AI is evolving quickly. With any new technology, there’s a degree of uncertainty around its use and challenges. But one thing is certain: news organizations that have standards and best practices in place for AI and produce trustworthy journalism can earn recognition for their good work and stand out to advertisers, which is something that AI-generated websites likely won’t do.


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