Axel Springer CEO Dr Mathias Döpfner

Axel Springer’s CEO Mathias Döpfner has warned that journalists are at risk of being replaced by AI systems like ChatGPT. This system is used by Axel Springer to generate news stories from structured data sources like sports results, stock prices, election results, etc. It can produce stories in minutes that would have taken hours for a human journalist.

This warning was part of an Axel Springer strategy update. The company has announced a strategy for its BILD and WELT Groups, which involves transitioning into a purely digital media company with exclusive content. The goal is to achieve further growth by investing 100 million euros over three years through revenue increases, cost savings, and investments made primarily in digital projects, journalistic quality, and technologies for contemporary production. The latter primarily refers to the introduction of AI in content production.

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At a meeting with employees, CEO Mathias Döpfner explained that the full conversion to a purely digital media company would not take place in the short term, as print remains profitable and indispensable for readers and advertising clients. However, he also made it clear that the same determination was needed for the third stage of the transformation, which is now beginning.

“Journalism more crucial”

Döpfner warned that due to the increasing importance of automation and artificial intelligence, journalism will be even more crucial than before and that creating exclusive and attractive content remains irreplaceable.

He affirmed, “Our goal is ‘Digital Only.’” He elaborated that AI has the potential to impact the processes and workflows of news organizations, and this is key in permanently changing the future of journalism. “AI is a technology that has the potential to affect not only content creation and distribution but also have a significant impact on the distribution and revenue side of a news organization.”

Unfortunately, he said, it also means that journalists are at risk of being replaced by AI systems like ChatGPT. This presents both opportunities and challenges for journalists and media companies alike. On the one hand, AI can help them become more efficient by automating specific tasks like fact-checking, copy-editing, or transcribing interviews. On the other hand, it can replace some human labor if it can perform certain tasks better than humans can.

Ethical Considerations of Using AI in Journalism

The primary ethical consideration when using AI in journalism is accuracy. AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on, so if there is bias or incorrect information in the data set then the output will also be biased or incorrect. This could lead to inaccurate reporting or even fake news if left unchecked.
Another ethical consideration is transparency. Journalists are ethically obligated to disclose any sources they use when reporting on a story, including any AI systems they use to generate content. This is important for maintaining trust with readers and ensuring accuracy in reporting.
Finally, there is the issue of privacy. Journalists need to ensure that any personal data collected by an AI system is stored securely and not used for any malicious purposes.