GenAI use cases move news publishers towards personalisation

By Sonali Verma


Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Here’s a look at a smattering of GenAI use cases our peers are working on in the news media business. Some are pure engagement plays, whereas others are for paying subscribers. All of them point the way towards showing value to our audiences through reliable tools that can be built quickly or inexpensively.

The trend is clearly towards personalisation. In each case, the user finds exactly what they are looking for in a format that is tailored to their needs — rather than a one-size-fits-all product that is handed to them and is identical to that handed to every user.

Dow Jones’ risk and compliance division created a product that lets its clients build an investigative due-diligence report from several sources within minutes. 

The product “extracts and summarises vast volumes of information into intuitive reports that are quick and easy to digest. The platform significantly reduces false positives, saving compliance professionals valuable time and resources,” according to the company. 

“The outputs are fully sourced and auditable, with links to the original articles and records for further interrogation.” 

The Washington Post is working on a product that lets its readers interrogate its archives. What is particularly interesting is that it is partnering with a university to develop this — two doctoral students have started a year-long research and development effort, with three Virginia Tech faculty members supervising.

This is a common practice at some other news organizations as well, such as The Globe and Mail in Canada, Schibsted in Norway, and Mediahuis and DPG Media in Belgium. It gives them access to innovative research, often at a relatively low cost.

Yahoo is using AI to rewrite click-bait headlines if they are misleading or unduly sensational.

The Associated Press’s visual search tool.
The Associated Press’s visual search tool.

The Associated Press is using AI-powered search for its videos, letting clients find individual moments within a video clip, even if they have never been tagged or captioned. “Rather than a traditional metadata search, the tool understands descriptive language and produces search results based on the description a user provides,” the company said.

Outside’s AI chat product, Scout.
Outside’s AI chat product, Scout.

Outside Magazine built a chatbot called Scout to ask specific questions, such as: “Can you recommend a hiking trail in San Francisco under four miles with a view of water?” It is powered by ChatGPT, but draws only from articles written by journalists at Outside Magazine, Backpacker, Climbing, and other publications in the Outside network over the past 20 years. It can answer questions about trip planning, outdoor gear, or meal planning while exploring nature. 

Scout was initially created to serve only subscribers, but it now appears on the top navigation bar of Outside’s Web sites and serves as the primary search engine across the network. The next step is to build new GPS-related features: “Imagine asking Scout for a mountain biking route and receiving a turn-by-turn Trailforks map, GPS coordinates, and a destination article from Pinkbike,” the largest mountain bike community in the world, the company said.

Hearst Newspapers created a quiz-generation engine called Emcee. “Emcee (M.C. = multiple choice) is built on the back of our newsrooms’ reported, edited and vetted work. No hallucinations here. We scrape our most popular stories, use GenAI to turn the stories into a multiple-choice format, spin up one of the DevHub’s interactive Quiz templates, and alert the editor, whose job is to read through the questions and answers, edit for taste and accuracy, and then publish the quiz manually,” said Tim O’Rourke, vice president of content strategy at Hearst.

“No direct publishing to the Web; a human is in the loop and in control of every piece of content.” Hearst’s newsrooms are using this technology to create a weekly programme to engage new readers. 

If you’d like to subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, INMA members can do so here.

About Sonali Verma

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.