Watch What Happens When AI Changes News

Todd Moses
May 15, 2024

Newspapers and magazines have struggled to transition to digital since the late 1990s, but the new AI-powered search engines have made this challenge even more daunting.

Inputs that matter: On Tuesday, Google announced that it would infuse its search engine with its artificial intelligence model, Gemini, drawing on the rapidly advancing technology to answer user queries directly at the top of results pages.

  • For news publishers, many of whom are already struggling with steep traffic declines, the revamped search experience will likely cause an even further decrease in audience, potentially starving them of readers and revenue.
  • "This will be catastrophic to our traffic, as marketed by Google to further satisfy user queries, leaving even less incentive to click through so that we can monetize our content," Danielle Coffey, the chief executive of the News/Media Alliance, told CNN.
  • "The little traffic we get today will be further diminished, and with a dominant search engine cementing its market power, we once again have to adhere to their terms. This time, we are dealing with a product that directly competes with our content, using our content to fuel it. This is a perverse twist on 'innovation.'"

The opportunity: Since ChatGPT crashed onto the scene more than a year ago, showcasing the potential power of AI for the public and setting off an arms race with Google, Meta, and others, publishers have significantly worried about the impact the technology will ultimately have on their businesses.

  • Before AI, news publishers were forced to adopt new digital models and compete with social media.
  • AI is just the latest obstacle and opportunity for news media.
  • As conflicts around the globe unfold, social media sites like X are already proving better at real-time reporting than any news organization.

Zoom in: "What we see with generative AI is that Google can do more of the searching for you," says Liz Reid, Google's newly installed head of Search.

  • Microsoft's Bing and OpenAI have been doing this since last year.
  • Eight prominent U.S. newspapers owned by investment giant Alden Global Capital sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement in a Southern District of New York complaint.
  • The newspapers accuse OpenAI and Microsoft of "purloining millions of the Publishers' copyrighted articles without permission and without payment" to fuel the commercialization of their two main generative artificial intelligence products.

Between the lines: Unlike Google and Microsoft, Banananomics uses AI to determine the cause behind global events and summarizes text with links to the sources.

  • However, AI is not a problem but an opportunity.
  • For example, Banananomics uses AI to pull in data for each story for a human to organize it.
  • Google and Facebook Ads are the real destroyers of the publishing business model.

Follow the money: Google uses a new specialized Gemini model to summarize the web and show you an answer.

  • Search engines and social media do not create content but profit from it.
  • Using network effects, these new business models are far more profitable than anything that came before.
  • The money is made from distribution, not in content ownership.

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