Microsoft Sachs Editors Jobs AI

About 50 editors working for Microsoft's news operation, MSN, found that their contracts were not renewed, and according to several news reports, their work was done through artificial intelligence software.

The Seattle Times reported last week that staff agencies had informed contractors through Acquaint, IFG, and Mack Consulting on May 27 that their services were no longer required.

A statement issued by company spokesperson Taor Zeru to TechNewsWorld did not mention artificial intelligence.

"As with all companies, we regularly evaluate our business," Microsoft said. "This may cause investments in some areas and reinvestment in others from time to time. These decisions are not the result of the current epidemic."

The Times reported that all full-time newsmakers working at MSN, the equivalent of contractors, remain with the company.

The paper quoted anonymous sources as saying that MSN is using AI to do editorial work such as finding trending news stories, rewriting headlines, and adding photos and slideshows to stories.

Contractors plan content, manage editorial calendars, and assign content to fellow news websites.

Funny, boring stories
"What Microsoft is doing is not different from what Google News does," said Dan Kennedy, a professor at the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.

Tech News World said, "Microsoft's human editors have been doing the same thing on the news page for years automatically."

For years, efforts have been made to use AI to do some journalistic work, but they have so far been unsuccessful, Kennedy said.

The Associated Press, for example, uses software to generate quarterly earnings report coverage for approximately 3,700 companies. However, in that case, AP is using AI to broaden its coverage, as most companies do not have the resources to cover its earnings reports.

An experimental approach is to bring stringers feed data into a program about local sporting events, and then write a story about the event.

"It's very limited, and the stories are weird and boring," Kennedy says. "There is no substitute for the decision of a good human editor."

Journalism is reduced
Machine-written stories may not be a good idea from a journalist's perspective, but media owners who are coming to reduce payroll may have a different view.

"It's a matter of when Google or Microsoft does something in the area because you don't think of them as news organizations - but if it is successful, it can be a bloodbath into real news organizations," Kennedy says.

"It's not only fewer jobs for journalists, but it's also less editorial production," he said, "because you're removing the layer of human judgment."

However, Kennedy said AI should not threaten journalists.

“The technology is not good yet, but - it may change,” he says. "I think it's going to get better. At some point, this will apply to journalism, not just jobs, but the whole philosophy of human editorial decision."

Kennedy said anyone with a Facebook deleted post knows the risks of using the algorithm. "You can't argue with them. You can't argue with them. You can't get them to change their minds. There are fewer human beings in the process, less journalism."

AI Gaming
The artificial intelligence system may eventually start writing stories, but that would be a mistake, said Bill Astorff, president of Creative Circle Media Consulting in Providence, Rhode Island.

"When AI learns how to write a story, it can be manipulated to hide data or leave it," he told Tech Newsforld.

One area where AI is a journalist friend is you

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