ChatGPT technology is about to change publishing and journalism forever. Here are some of the developments we’ve seen so far.
Marketing & Growth
December 16, 2022
ChatGPT technology is about to change publishing and journalism forever. Certain types of journalism, like simple sports and business stories, are especially susceptible to automation. ChatGPT may be the most important digital technology to impact publishers since the 1980s.
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence model created by OpenAI. The conversational program can answer questions and can leverage secondary research to write “original” copy. If information is on the Internet, chatGPT can produce content. Fast.
The output of chatGPT isn’t perfect, and it still sometimes makes basic errors but, for an alpha release technology, it has already achieved a great deal.
Early experiments with chatGPT have raised some exciting questions and worries for others. Here are some of the developments we’ve seen so far.
The Washington Post reports that dyslexic people are starting to use chatGPT to create work emails. The emails aren’t perfect, but they represent a significant time saving for people who struggle with writing, or who might not be native English speakers, but want to sound like one.
It’s not just working professionals who are seeing benefits from this technology. Fox News reports that AI technology like chatGPT could “blow up” the US education system. The report poses the question of whether overworked teachers can detect if students are using AI. In the worst-case scenario, students lose the ability to write independently. Teachers would face additional pressures to innovate to respond to this change.
Software engineers and developers have long taken pride in their technical skills. However, chatGPT is starting to succeed in some programming tasks. GeekWire claims that chatGPT may soon “match programming prowess of average coders.” For example, the software can create some SQL (structured query language) queries based on minimal direction.
With the right strategy, chatGPT is a major opportunity to boost productivity. This technology can draft basic news stories that rely on existing information. That frees up budgetary resources for publishers to invest in investigative stories and other high-impact reporting. In practical terms, this means a single experienced editor can get much more done without much incremental cost.
While technologies like chatGPT are sure to change publishing and journalism, the appetite for quality stories and investigation isn’t going anywhere. Just consider what happened to the accounting and financial industry after spreadsheet software became widespread…
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt make it difficult to see the advantages and disadvantages of chatGPT. Fortunately, recent history gives some perspective. Consider the case of spreadsheet software.
Before the launch of VisiCalc in 1979, thousands of accounting clerks maintained business records. This work involved long hours writing numbers, recalculating, and checking data for accuracy. The highly manual nature of the work meant managers often had to wait hours, days, or longer for insight.
Fast forward a few decades later, the spreadsheet had a very different impact on business. CPA Practice Advisor estimates that hundreds of millions, perhaps even a billion, of people use spreadsheet software regularly. The nature of accounting employment has changed dramatically. The New Stack reported in 2019 that there were 400,000 fewer accounting clerks in the 2000s compared to 1980. However, there are 600,000 more regular accountants. Future demand is vital as well. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job growth for accountants and auditors will be 6% from 2021 to 2031.
In other words, spreadsheet software eliminated much manual work from accounting. The result? Managers, executives, and others increased their demand for financial and accounting data of all kinds. This technological story directly parallels how publishing may evolve in light of chatGPT.
At Arena, we’re generally optimistic about the impact of technology on fostering community and making life better and believe that highly disruptive technology like chatGTP has significant potential to drive the next evolution of the publishing business model. By automating the majority of the grunt work of journalism, especially data gathering, editors can put more resources in investigative articles, features and high-end reporting.
For editors and managers, chatGPT opens new possibilities to deliver the news even while budgets come under pressure. Senior reporters can keep their focus on developing sources, in-depth interviews, and creating outstanding stories that keep audiences engaged. Less complex stories - like sports scores and financial reports - can be drafted to good enough (or better!) by this technology.
With technology like chatGPT, you publish time-sensitive stories like company earnings, sports scores and other routine stories quickly. With those stories largely handled by AI, your lean group of experienced reporters can source unique stories that readers can’t find anywhere else. The bottom line is that you can maintain or improve margins by fully leveraging chatGPT.
Like any disruptive technology, chatGPT has the potential to create a new generation of winners and losers. Today, these technologies can produce “good enough” or “first draft” level content. That means your competitors can copy and respin existing content faster than ever.
The solution is to create community, content, and experiences that cannot be copied. Here are three ways to build a moat around your business.
Bringing your audience together for memorable experiences is something that AI can’t match. Planning in-person events aren’t your only option. You can also create hybrid and virtual events using Arena Live Chat.
Here are two ways to build premium community experiences to keep your audience coming back again and again.
Building exclusive experiences around your high-profile personalities, journalists, athletes and staff is a winning strategy. You don’t need Anderson Cooper’s 9 million Twitter followers, either. Running a smaller “fireside chat” event can be even more compelling to your audience.
Technologies like chatGPT are primarily driven by historical information on the Internet. These tools struggle to develop new ideas, insights, and predictions. One way to meet this need in your audience is to invite influencers and emerging experts to connect with your audience. For example, true crime social media influencers could enrich your coverage of a high-profile criminal trial.
You can launch an ongoing virtual event series at a low cost using Arena Live Chat.
Historically, investigative journalism has been costly. In 2013, The Atlantic reported that a team of journalists spent $750,000 and two years to reveal “the dangers of Tylenol's main active ingredient, acetaminophen.” These stories are challenging to produce. They are also stories that inspire greater trust and engagement in news publishers.
As publishers face more pressure to stretch their budgets, chatGPT and investigative reporting can work closely together. A small group of experienced editors can use AI to quickly draft essential stories and publish them. Meanwhile, shifting resources to investigative resources, hard-to-get interviews, and exclusive coverage will keep your publication highly competitive.
Asking your reporters to run community events and engage with new voices might sound unrealistic for your busy reporters. That’s where ChatGPT is transformational. This technology can eliminate hours of routine data gathering and basic writing for your staff.
As a result, your senior-level reporters, who command the greatest trust with your audience, will have more time to engage with your audience. Increased engagement means more attention on your website for longer periods of time which leads to increased advertising revenue.
As new technology erodes traditional advantages in publishing, it’s essential to act preemptively. Discover Arena’s solutions for publishing - the easiest way to create interactive virtual communities.