The push and pull of AI in newsrooms 

The relationship between AI and news publishers continues to get deeper and more complex. Axios reported that The Washington Post has launched a new AI-driven chatbot focused exclusively on climate, with answers pulled straight from Post articles. The bot is designed to “decline” to answer any questions if there isn’t enough information in the Post archives. “Our intent is not to replace the critical role our journalists play, but to offer readers new ways to engage with the work we have already published,” the Post explained in an introduction to the bot, called Climate Answers. 

Meanwhile, as part of The New York Times’s lawsuit against OpenAI over copyright infringement, the tech company is requesting reporters’ notes and other reporting files to prove that the Times’s content is “original”, reports Entrepreneur. The Times dismissed the request as “irrelevant, improper, and harassing.” 

At a recent Poynter hackathon, journalism leaders brainstormed out to create ethical AI tools for journalists. The ideals all wrestled with how to contend with ethical issues around data collection, privacy and how journalistic principles can be applied to AI. And in INMA, Sonali Verma spotlights how several news outlets around the world are experimenting with AI tools. 

News In Focus
Headlines, resources and events aligned with API’s four areas of focus.

Civic Discourse & Democracy

>> After the debate, plenty of insider texts but little transparency among political reporters (Poynter)

Since the presidential debate, reporters have frequently talked about the magnitude of the off-the-record text exchanges they have with political insiders. Despite an industry-wide move towards transparency, political reporters are still relying heavily on anonymous sources — a practice can breed mistrust with audiences. 

>> New from API: American Press Institute awards grants to 21 news organizations as part of its 2024 Election Coverage and Community Listening Fund 

The American Press Institute awarded grants to 21 news organizations as part of its 2024 Election Coverage and Community Listening Fund. The grants will help local and community-based media across the country augment their community engagement work around local elections and beyond. 

Culture & Inclusion

>> An ambitious digital news philanthropy makes a sharp turn after just two years (Poynter) 

The National Trust for Local News is shifting away from focusing on direct funding and “coaching” for nonprofit newsrooms and into providing direct, hands-on teams that help newsrooms focus on operations and product development. 

>> Join us: Telling untold stories with source tracking 

Source tracking gives news leaders data to improve community representation in their coverage and find audience-focused story ideas. American Press Institute’s Source Matters automates source tracking to help newsrooms better reach and represent the communities they cover. Learn how Source Matters can help you better serve your community during our webinar tomorrow, July 11 at 1pm ET.

Community Engagement & Trust

>> Alkompis’ Julia Agha on telling hard truths to your audience (The Fix) 

In 2022, Alkompis, an Arabic-language news outlet in Sweden, began covering a conspiracy theory that Swedish social services kidnap Muslim children — and became a target of disinformation campaigns itself. The outlet responded by inviting readers to submit opinion pieces and share their own experiences, while explaining to its audience why this type of fact-checking is valuable. 

Revenue & Resilience

>> Gannett tests dropping a 7-day option for new print subscribers (Poynter)

Gannett’s regional papers are testing a new print subscription offering — only one or two days of print per week, plus digital access. The “holiday sale” may be a sign that the chain is preparing to move away from daily print.

>> In the world’s tech capital, Gazetteer SF is staying off platforms to produce good local journalism (Nieman Lab) 

Now four months old, Gazetteer SF doesn’t have any social media accounts and even prevents Google from surfacing its results in search. Founder and CEO Byron Perry says the goal is to “build a totally independent publication and business model” without any reliance on tech platforms. 

What else you need to know

📻 Biden aides provided questions in advance for his radio interviews (The New York Times) 

📺 A billionaire is boosting a major defamation lawsuit against Fox News (The Washington Post)

📰 ‘Wall Street Journal’ sued by star reporter for discrimination (NPR) 

💻 Chalkbeat expands to public health, hires media veterans to run new parent organization (Axios) 

✍️ Apply to an AEJMC preconference on connecting journalism research and practice that supports more equitable, engaged, and sustainable journalism and civic media. (AEJMC)