How does Genesis work?
Genesis is an AI tool that absorbs information and details about current events and creates journalistic stories based on them. Like existing tools, it can be operated with the help of prompts, so that the final result corresponds to the editorial policy of different media.
According to The Guardian, Google is currently in the early stages of exploring this AI tool, which, according to them, could help journalists create headlines or adjust their writing style. They pointed out that technology is not intended to replace journalists.
These tools are not intended to replace the role journalists have in reporting, creating and factchecking their articles. Our goal is to give journalists the choice of using these emerging technologies in a way that enhances their work and productivity, just like we’re making assistive tools available for people in Gmail and in Google Docs.
Google’s statement published in The Guardian
For now, Google has introduced this tool to major media outlets such as the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal who, by all accounts, were not thrilled.
“It seemed to take for granted the effort that went into producing accurate and artful news stories,” the New York Times executives said in a brief statement.
However, if Google’s plans are such that it will prioritize this tool when ranking media content, does it matter if some media outlets don’t accept it?
Besides, isn’t one of the arguments proponents of AI tools that, whether you accept them or not, your competition certainly will?
This is supported by data from accounting group KPMG published last month, which shows that AI tools can replace about 43% of the work done by authors, writers and translators.
What do journalists think about it?
We spoke with two journalists from different newsrooms to find out what the profession’s opinion is about the use of AI tools in journalism, when they can be useful and when harmful, and whether audiences can recognize AI-generated content from author’s work.
Journalists Sanja Kosović and Irena Čučković speak for WebMind.
WEBMIND: Can AI tools be useful to journalists and in what situations?
SANJA: I think AI tools can be very useful to journalists and within the newsrooms themselves, especially smaller ones. Journalists, especially in local newsrooms, are now often expected to be jack of all trades, that is, to know a little about everything: starting with social networks, through video, editing, and sometimes even graphic design – and then there’s their main job, which is journalism. Such small teams are often overcrowded with a bunch of “non-journalistic” jobs, especially if it comes to community media, which includes writing projects, reports and the like, which takes a lot of time, but is necessary for the work and functioning of the media.
I think AI can significantly help journalists, to be some form of assistant, by speeding up and facilitating that part of the "non-journalistic" job. In addition, AI tools can make it much easier to work on research stories as well. For example, sending 200 Requests for Access to Information of Public Importance to 200 different addresses is a job that takes a lot of time and nerves. Imagine now, instead of sitting around and clicking for a few hours to send all those emails – AI does it for you within minutes: starting with collecting addresses, adjusting those requests, and eventually sending them.
IRENA: I believe that AI tools can be useful, although so far, I have not had the opportunity to use them specifically in my journalistic work. I assume that AI tools can make it easier for journalists to do some routine tasks and texts that don’t require a high level of creativity. As with any other technology, it is a question of its application and how we will make it a useful tool for us.
WEBMIND: When can they be harmful to media content?
IRENA: When we rely entirely on AI tools. I think they can be a help to us in our work, but they can’t replace a journalist altogether. This means that for some content created with the help of AI, it is still important that it undergoes a journalistic check that may regulate some of its segments.
SANJA: I personally do not see much damage, but, as with all technologies, they can be harmful depending on what purpose and how the user/journalist will use it. I, personally, see AI as some “extension” of our skills and abilities. I feel like AI tools will be what Google is today – a completely normal and common tool in the near future. If we look at it that way, we can say that it is noticed by the quality of the text when something is insufficiently researched, sloppy, from Wikipedia and the like, and when a lot of effort has been invested in some work.
WEBMIND: Major media outlets such as Reuters have been using AI tools to help write news for some time, but even in those cases, the intervention of journalists/editors in reviewing and factchecking is necessary. What is your opinion on this practice?
SANJA: I think it’s great. When it comes to factual genres, which are generally written according to some, let’s call it, pattern, that AI will accelerate and facilitate the work of journalists, but that, of course, the intervention of journalists is always necessary. By speeding up these routine jobs, including working on all non-journalistic parts of the work in newsrooms, journalists will have more time to devote themselves to serious stories and journalistic work, just because journalists today, especially in local newsrooms, are almost constantly in some burnout.
IRENA: As I said, I think AI tools can be a good thing for journalists when they are trained to use them and when they don’t rely entirely on technology but use it as an adjuvant to get a job done faster or more efficiently.
WEBMIND: Do you think AI tools are useful for automating journalistic jobs such as SEO, copying or even writing media projects?
IRENA: I would say that the same applies to them as it is for journalistic practice – I don’t know how smart it would be to let AI write SEO and copy, and even media projects, but it can certainly be helpful in some aspects, such as, for example, researching a particular topic.
SANJA: Absolutely. I’ve already cited projects and social media as an example. I’d like to mention that I don’t think AI will do the job completely instead of journalists, but it will certainly make it a lot easier, just by giving some ideas, so then the user can adjust it based on that. Journalism and social media are creative jobs, and it often happens that people in these professions have some creative blocks. It has happened to me several times that I sit and look at some copy and that I can not think of it because my brain has “stopped working”. Then I go to ChatGPT and boom – its suggestions encourage me to think in another direction.
WEBMIND: Since you yourself participated in writing projects, do you think that organizations will rely heavily on these tools and will it affect the quality and final assessment of the project? In other words, is it easy to notice if someone uses AI for these purposes?
SANJA: I think it all depends on whose hands the AI tool is in, and that there will be a significant difference when something is written only with the assistance of AI, and when something is mostly written with the help of AI. However, in the projects themselves, the idea and originality are important, the way in which this idea will be realized; it takes a dose of creativity and some authentic “humanity”, in my opinion, the same as in other creative jobs. AI can help us with some routine things, with bureaucratic ways of expressing ourselves when it comes to writing projects and stuff, but, as far as I’m concerned, it can’t exactly replace our authenticity. After all, it is just a man-made tool that learns from our experiences.
IRENA: What’s been my experience of using AI in writing so far is that the descriptions you can get are often general, and based on that you can somewhat deduce whether someone has used AI. On the other hand, ChatGPT has been useful to me in writing projects, but not as a tool that will write something for me, but as a kind of advanced search in research, where I set a specific topic and then ask him to take me to the sources from which he withdrew some of his claims. It’s the kind of research I could do in an old school way, but this way I save some time and for such things ChatGPT is quite useful to me.