2024 Finalist

Producer-P: Hearst's AI-Powered Audience Optimization Tool

Hearst Newspapers

San Francisco, United States

Category Artificial Intelligence

Overview of this campaign

Hearst Newspapers (HNP) believes deeply in providing audiences with the highest-quality local journalism while maintaining smart efficiency standards. The new AI-powered Producer-P audience optimization tool reflects that strategy by streamlining the creation and management of digital content, adapting seamlessly to the evolving demands of modern newsrooms.

Producer-P leverages OpenAI’s GPT-4 and fine-tuned GPT-3.5-Turbo models. It addresses resource challenges head-on and is integrated within the digital workflows of several newsrooms, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and (Albany) Times Union, through Slack bots. This set-up ensures the tool is both accessible and compatible with existing newsroom processes.

The tool's main function is to assist in creating headlines, SEO titles, URLs and social media posts. By quickly analyzing article content, Producer-P not only cuts down the time needed for these tasks but also brings a variety of perspectives to content creation. 

Producer-P is designed with a focus on active user engagement. Rather than being directly embedded into the CMS, which might lead to an overreliance on AI-generated content, it requires users to interact with and critically assess the content it generates. This design choice is complemented by the visibility of the tool in public Slack channels, which promotes responsible use through peer review and oversight.

Ethical and responsible AI usage is a cornerstone of Producer-P's implementation. All users undergo a comprehensive training program covering technical usage and broader issues relating to large language models. This training focuses on three essential rules: maintaining human oversight; limiting text generation to summarizing, aggregating or remixing information; and ensuring transparency with both readers and colleagues.

Producer-P represents a significant step forward in enhancing productivity in newsrooms. It lives at the intersection of generative AI and journalism, contributing to the responsibility of our newsrooms to cover local communities as deeply and strategically as possible.

Results for this campaign

Since its launch, Producer-P has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness and has been embraced by Hearst Newspapers journalists and teams around the larger Hearst organization. Handling more than 10,000 requests with a monthly average exceeding 1,000, it has rapidly become indispensable in our journalists' daily operations.

Producer-P’s influence goes beyond tangible metrics. More than 180 journalists have been trained in responsible AI use through the Producer-P rollout, shifting our newsroom culture toward seeing AI as a “copilot” — an enhancer of journalistic skills, not a replacement. Journalists report a deeper understanding of AI's role and limitations, enriching their reporting capabilities and opening up our company for future innovations.

It’s also worth noting that for our hyperlocal newsrooms, with fewer audience-focused journalists on staff, Producer-P is like having an audience producer or SEO editor riding shotgun with you every day. Having the tool active in those newsrooms has coincided with rises in all our KPI metrics, including new subscribers.

A testament to Producer-P’s reliability is its unblemished record of factual accuracy, with no incidents of fact errors since launch. This achievement is crucial in a profession where accuracy is imperative.

Producer-P’s contribution extends to reshaping our approach to AI in journalism. Following on the success of Producer-P, we are developing more AI-powered internal tools focused on translation, newsletter summarization and transcription, as well as public-facing experiences that repackage our reported, edited and vetted content. 

Producer-P also underscores the balance between technological advancement and the irreplaceable value of human judgment. By reinforcing this balance, Producer-P not only boosts efficiency but also fortifies our commitment to responsible, innovative journalism.


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