Google Gets Indie News Outlets to Test Its New AI Tool

Google Gets Indie News Outlets to Test Its New AI Tool

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: February 28, 2024

Google rolled out an exclusive program in January tailored for a select group of independent publishers, offering them early access to an innovative generative AI platform.

The program, revealed in the documents obtained by Adweek, is designed to foster collaboration between the tech giant and news organizations, with publishers providing valuable feedback and analytics in exchange for beta access to the cutting-edge AI platform.

"In partnership with news publishers, especially smaller publishers, we’re in the early stages of exploring ideas to potentially provide AI-enabled tools to help journalists with their work," a Google representative said in a statement.

"These tools are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role journalists have in reporting, creating and fact-checking their articles."

Publishers Are Paid to Test Google's New AI Tool

Participating publishers are expected to utilize the suite of AI tools to generate a fixed number of content over the next 12 months.

Under the program, they will produce three articles per day, one newsletter per week, and one marketing campaign per month using this AI platform. While the tool assists in summarizing articles from external sources, a human editor is responsible for ensuring accuracy before publication.

In return, the publishers receive a monthly payment amounting to a substantial five-figure sum annually, along with access to tools that facilitate the creation of relevant content for their readership.

How Does Google's New AI Tool Work?

The tool provided to these publishers enables them to efficiently create aggregated content by indexing recently published reports from various sources, including government agencies and neighboring news outlets.

This content is then summarized and published as new articles, streamlining the editorial process for under-resourced publishers.

The program comes as part of the company's Google News Initiative (GNI) which kickstarted in 2018 intending to provide technology and training to publishers.

The Ethics of GNI Could Become Problematic

Concerns have been raised regarding the consent of original sources whose content is being aggregated and summarized without formal notification. There are worries that the AI-generated articles may divert traffic away from the original sources, potentially impacting their businesses.

"I think this calls into question the mission of GNI," Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint noted.

"It’s hard to argue that stealing people’s work supports the mission of the news. This is not adding any new information to the mix."

Despite the potential benefits for participating publishers, the GNI has faced mixed reception.

Kint argues that GNI initiatives aim to address issues created by Google itself, such as revenue extraction and antitrust concerns within the publishing industry.

"The larger point here is that Google is in legislative activity and antitrust enforcement globally for extracting revenue from the publishing world," Kint concluded. "Instead of giving up some of that revenue, it’s attacking the cost side for its long-tail members with the least bargaining power."

Meanwhile, 57% of Top Publications Blocked OpenAI Crawlers in 2023
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