Microsoft Is the Latest Behemoth Trying to ‘Help’ Journos With AI

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To paraphrase the old adage, be careful when printing press manufacturers want to get in on the newsmaking business. Today we learn that Microsoft — a company that makes the tools most writers use on a daily basis to produce their stories — is getting behind journalists in a big way, primarily by flogging their own GenAI tools and creating training sessions that highlight Microsoft Copilot (no relation) instead of everyone else’s. (Disclosure: members of The Media Copilot staff do consulting work for several companies, including Microsoft.)

According to a post by Noreen Gillespie, Journalism Director at the company’s Democracy Forward, Technology for Fundamental Rights group, Microsoft is looking to help the ecosystem by “launching several collaborations with news organizations to adopt generative AI.

“In a year where billions of people will vote in democratic elections worldwide, journalism is critical to creating healthy information ecosystems, and it is our mission, working with the industry, to ensure that newsrooms can innovate to serve this year and in the future,” Gillespie wrote.

The move boils down to some training and tools. The announcement says:

Semafor will work with us to harness AI tools to assist journalists in their research, source discovery, translation, and more with Semafor Signals, helping journalists provide a diverse array of credible local, national, and global sources to their audience.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will invite experienced journalists to a tuition-free program to explore ways to incorporate generative AI into their work and newsrooms in a three-month hybrid and highly interactive program. The AI Journalism Lab will be run by Nikita Roy, a data scientist, entrepreneur, and host of the podcast Newsroom Robots, which explores AI applications in journalism.

Here’s the trick, though: the AI tools described above don’t seem much different than doing a quick Google Bing search, and three months of training in AI, however noble, sounds like a bit much.

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