Why Journalists Make the Best Prompt Engineers, With David Caswell

Doing journalism with AI? What even is that?

Up until recently, the answer to that question was a small part of the profession, mostly restricted to big publications with deep pockets and a sophisticated data strategy (think: The Washington Post or the AP). But after ChatGPT said hello to the world a year and a half ago, “AI-powered news” was suddenly a big, blank canvas for the entire industry.

After the world saw the disastrous results of using the content produced by generative AI without a robust process surrounding the creating, vetting, and publishing of that content, the media world went back to the drawing board: What exactly is this “magical” new technology good for, and what does a newsroom need to do to use it safely and ethically?

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David Caswell spends most of his days thinking about exactly that. David has been working with machine learning and AI in media for well over a decade, leading product and innovation teams at the BBC, Tribune Publishing, and Yahoo. He’s now a consultant and researcher focused on AI in newsrooms, and he wrote arguably the definitive guide on the subject last fall in his article “AI and News: What’s Next?”

This week David joins The Media Copilot podcast to talk about everything that’s happened since his article dropped, and how his thinking about AI’s role in our media ecosystem has changed. We also explore what he hopes to see come out of The New York Times lawsuit against OpenAI, how reporters should be leveraging generative tools, and why journalists are naturally good prompt engineers.

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