Small news publishers are making great strides with GenAI

By Sonali Verma


Toronto, Ontario, Canada


By now, we’ve all heard of AI use cases coming out of fantastically innovative news organisations such as Schibsted. But you don’t need to be a giant in the news industry with dozens of different brands to do innovative work. 

Nate McCullough is group editor at Metro Market Media, headquartered in the U.S. state of Georgia, which owns the Gainesville Times, the Forsyth County News, and Dawson County News. He told me: “Our approach could best be described as just getting our feet wet.

“We are a small group of community newspapers. We don’t have the means to do large-scale tech development, so right now we are mainly exploring the use of AI to ease reporter/editor workload by letting the robots do the tedious stuff.  

“So far, we’ve used it for interview transcription, story idea generation, assisting with new products (such as coming up with a name for a growth and development newsletter), and AI-generated voice-over for social media video promos.  

“We hope soon to use it to take content we’ve already produced and repurpose it for special projects.” 

Metro Market also has a committee in place which is drawing up the company’s strategy and rules for AI use. “We even used AI to help generate some of the proposed rules,” he said.  

“One thing we all agree on: It will not replace people here. It will only be used to augment their work and ease their workload.”

Mark Talkington, editor-in-chief at The Palms Springs Post in California, used GenAI to create a tool that could “cover” a Palm Springs Planning Commission meeting and generate a story on one of the agenda items. You can watch his short video on that here. (His newspaper appears to have just two staff members.)

Similarly, Ole Petter Pedersen, editor-in-chief at Norwegian electricity daily Europower, likes AI as a research assistant.

“For my newsroom that covers the electricity market, it will clearly make sense to use AI to read and interpret reports, analyse data sets, keep track of public correspondence, and alert the reporters whenever there is something going on,” he said.  

Europower in Norway uses GenAI in many ways, including alerting reporters to news events.
Europower in Norway uses GenAI in many ways, including alerting reporters to news events.

He also wants to use AI as a fact-checker on the fly during live political debates. And, like McCullough, he is also careful about the output and aware of its limitations. 

“As a research tool, I think we will be able to benefit enormously from AI. But as journalism often is about uncovering what others do not want us to publish, we need to treat it as a research tool more than something that delivers an end product to the user.”

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About Sonali Verma

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