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Meet the AI Replacing Journalists

Artificial intelligence in the news and people watching it

Not long ago, a story broke about Sports Illustrated running content generated by AI. The well-known and highly reputable sports journal initially denied and then diverted blame to one of its content providers. That content provider was AdVon Commerce, which perhaps not-so-surprisingly has continued to remain mostly behind the scenes. But as time passes, the journalistic violations and poor ethical judgment are becoming less offensive. In an industry that seems to be losing its ways, new marketing players are taking advantage of recent trends. These trends not only involve opportunities to undermine authenticity and accuracy but to lean on new technologies as well. Increasingly, artificial intelligence in the news is becoming the norm. And the future of journalism with AI at its core could soon be a reality.

a reporter writing about Artificial intelligence in the news
Artificial intelligence in the news is fine as a story, not so fine as the writer of the story.

(It’s perilous to program AI with biases–read why in this Bold story.)

In focusing on AdVon Commerce, it is now evident that more and more companies are embracing their AI strategies. These aren’t small publishers looking to survive or gain slow progress in market share. Instead, they’re major players in the industry and even Big Tech that once criticized AdVon. Why the sudden shift and change of heart? Perhaps it’s becoming clear that stopping the use of artificial intelligence in the news is futile. Or maybe it’s the only way publishers and those dependent on content volumes can compete today. In either case, the future of journalism with AI is here. And journalists will need to get on board if they want to avoid obsolescence.

A Little About AdVon Commerce

As a company, few knew anything about AdVon Commerce until the story involving Sports Illustrated was released. However, rather quietly, the company had been exploring what the future of journalism with AI might look like in coming years. As such, it contracted with struggling content writers from developing countries to initially provide content. For nominal pay, these gig workers would pump out content that AdVon used to help other companies market themselves. But this shifted not long ago when these same writers were instead asked to refine AI-generated content. Content using artificial intelligence in the news, web content, blogs, and more was created and polished. And along the way, AdVon was training its own AI systems on how to better generate mass marketing content.

Not long after the shift internally at AdVon, these same writers were “let go.” So it would seem AdVon believed its progress was enough to support the future of journalism with AI as a replacement to the existing status quo. This also happened to be around the same time that OpenAI released ChatGPT, which AdVon saw as a threat. Fueled by a desire to compete in generative AI, AdVon began pursuing clients that might benefit from their AI offerings. Not only did these offerings include product and book reviews, marketing ads, and related content. But they came complete with AI-generated fake authors, their headshots, and bios. Without a doubt, the quality and accuracy of this content was poor. But massive volumes of content by artificial intelligence in the news, web pages, and other outlets, helped companies gain advantage. This was Advon’s leverage.

a cartoon of people reading AI stuff
AI shouldn’t replace humans–especially if those humans are journalists.

Some Notable Partners in the Industry

It’s worth noting AdVon’s tagline when considering its use of artificial intelligence in the news and other journalistic outlets. The company strives to “innovate, scale, and win” according to its mission. Certainly, using AI to generate content for a variety of journals and company marketing platforms is innovative. And there’s no doubt AI-generated content can be created on a massive scale as major AI companies have shown. But winning involves bending the rules and ethics of journalism in using AI content. Such practices supported by AdVon have been described as “site reputation abuse” or “scaled content abuse.” In essence, this involves bombarding sites and publications with content from artificial intelligence in the news, blogs, and other sources. And in the aftermath of the Sports Illustrated story, several companies criticized such practices almost uniformly.

(Check out how Sports Illustrated got their hands caught in the AI cookie jar in this Bold story.)

Whether Sports Illustrated or its parent company, Gannett, knew about its content created by artificial intelligence in the news remains unclear. But it is evident that Sports Illustrated isn’t the only company that’s relied on AdVon. USA Today has also been identified as using the company’s AI-generated stories and reviews. Likewise, publisher Outside, which publishes Yoga Journal, Backpacker, and Clean Eating also has used AdVon’s content. But perhaps most disturbing is AdVon’s recent partnership with Google and its access to Google Cloud. The AdVonAI platform will soon be available to any company or publisher via Google’s product for a monthly subscription plus usage fees. Given that Google was highly critical of AdVon just a few months ago, this seems like a strange change of opinion. However, it might simply be that Google sees the future of journalism with AI inevitable as well as the future of search.

The Future of Journalisms with AI

the future of journalism with AI as a reporter types it
The future of journalism with AI will be contentious if AI does the journalism.

There’s been a great deal of concern voiced about the use of artificial intelligence in the news. Similarly, using AI for product and book reviews has been criticized because it undermines the trust economy. But increasingly, it’s getting harder and harder to tell what’s been written by human journalists and what’s AI generated. AdVon may be among the first to test the waters in this regard. However, it certainly won’t be the last, which raises serious questions about the future of journalism with AI. Will journalistic ethics be thrown by the wayside? Or will journalism adapt to using artificial intelligence in the news and marketing as a new tool?

Of course, journalism isn’t the only industry vulnerable to generative AI. Dozens of industries will be impacted by these new technologies in coming years including CEOs of some companies. However, this doesn’t mean jobs will be lost along the way. Instead, new positions that oversee the use of artificial intelligence in the news and other content areas will likely evolve. This will provide new opportunities to better ensure authenticity and accuracy of content. And it will allow a more promising vision for the future of journalism with AI moving forward. At this point, this future has yet to be well defined. But the disruption of journalism and journalists by AI is already here.


Generative AI and Higher Education Are the Perfect Match–Read How in this Bold Story!

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