Google is secretly pitching its AI tool to news organizations

Will journalists and reporters soon run out of jobs?
Sejal Sharma
Google headquarters
Google headquarters


Google is meeting with organizations under the Murdoch-owned News Corp umbrella - The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal - to pitch them its AI tool, which can produce and write news stories.

The tool's name is reportedly Genesis, and it is being pitched by Google to enhance journalism productivity, according to an exclusive report by The New York Times.

Some of the executives who were present at the time Google pitched the AI tool to the organizations said that they were unsettled by the AI and that it lacked an understanding of the effort that goes into producing accurate news stories.

Should journalists be worried?

While Google has clarified that the tools aren’t meant to replace journalists but rather act as an aid, this shift in technological advancement is bound to create anxiety among reporters and journalists. While AI cannot replace the empathy, intellect, and accuracy with which reporters file stories, AI tools can assist with research.

However, the critical issue with the AI news tool Google is pitching is it will lack credibility and have no real original reporting value. Let’s not forget large language models tend to hallucinate - which means spouting wrong information as factually correct. And that’s a big no-no in journalism.

One can even say that in the age of AI-generated content and crowdsourced news, investigative journalism and fact-checking are critical.

The response hasn’t been all that great

The AI tsunami is here in our newsrooms

Many organizations like Insider, NPR, and The Times are already experimenting with how they can leverage AI tools in their newsrooms.

The New York Times spoke to Jenn Crider, a Google spokeswoman, who said that the AI tool is not intended to replace journalists but to carry out menial tasks like providing headline options.

There’s a worry that AI tools like Genesis can spread misinformation. But news organizations like The Associated Press have been using AI to write articles on corporate earnings reports. Still, even then, these articles are a small fraction compared to journalist-written articles, reported NYT.

In his article, Joshua Benton, an American journalist who founded Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, says that he fed ChatGPT several reports on a shoot-out-related story and asked the chatbot to formulate a report. The documents fed to ChatGPT were laden with potential landmines meant to test journalistic decisions.

Benton found that the report written by ChatGPT was purple-prosed, racist, and ethically questionable in several places.

But Benton also batted against flat-out rejecting Genesis: “Spell-checkers took part of a copy editor’s job and shoved it in a CPU; Grammarly and similar tools do the same today. Digitized archives were going to degrade the researcher’s unique skill to find the critical document on a dusty shelf. Or just imagine what it would be like to research a complicated topic today without a search engine to organize the world’s information. None of these tools has been perfect, and there were good things about each of their pre-digital analogs.”

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