Google is reportedly paying publishers thousands of dollars to use its AI to write stories

Key Points:

  • Google striking deals with publishers to use generative AI tools for publishing stories
  • Program targets smaller publishers to create aggregated content efficiently
  • Publishers agree to publish specific content using AI tools and do not disclose AI usage to readers


Google has expanded its Google News Initiative (GNI) program by quietly entering deals with select publishers to utilize new generative AI tools in crafting stories, as reported by _Adweek_. These agreements, rumored to be worth tens of thousands annually, aim to help smaller publishers efficiently create content by summarizing and republishing reports from various sources using beta generative AI tools provided by Google.


Participating publishers are expected to deliver a specified amount of content daily, along with a newsletter and marketing campaign each week and month, respectively. Noteworthy is the opaque nature of the program, as publishers are reportedly not obligated to disclose their use of AI, nor are the original sources of the aggregated content notified about its reuse. The AI-generated text undergoes a color-coded review system to aid human editors in verifying credibility before publication.


While the financial terms remain undisclosed, the initiative marks Google’s foray into supporting journalists with AI-enabled tools without aiming to replace the core functions of reporting, creating, and fact-checking carried out by human journalists. Although the motivations behind Google’s collaboration with publishers are not explicitly outlined, it echoes past industry trends where tech giants compensated newsrooms for leveraging proprietary tools.


Comparisons could be drawn to Facebook’s previous partnerships with publishers, particularly the infamous live video deals from 2016 that ultimately fizzled after Facebook overestimated viewership metrics, leading to a major shift away from news content. The repercussions of this pivot to video strategy were substantial, resulting in significant job losses across the media sector.


The present GNI program, though on a more modest scale than Facebook’s past endeavors, is likely to stimulate debates surrounding the ethical implications of employing generative AI tools in journalism. Cases of AI-generated content in publications like CNET and _Sports Illustrated_ have faced criticism for blurring the lines between human and machine-generated writing, raising concerns about transparency and authenticity in media outlets.



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