News Is a Service, Not a Product

This mindset can unlock AI utility in newsrooms.

From the editor: Is digital media doomed? The following perspective comes from a guest who was an executive at one of the biggest newsrooms in the world. It reframes the way generative AI is often blamed for contaminating content with mediocre output. What if the focus was on the journalism and not the content?

Newsroom conversations about AI are confined by the wrong mindset. News is a service, not a product. In order to understand why this matters, let me break it down.

If news is a product, then the ultimate byproduct is the article. This mindset dictates how ads are bought, sold, and placed on the real-estate of the page. Additionally, the traffic to that page determines the ultimate value of the coverage for the bottom line. Publishers will spend resources designing the packaging and promotion of that content. Awards will be set up to honor the best designs. Careers will be made out of this whole arrangement. And while it works for many of the actors involved, it is missing one key element: the audience. For the most part, the youngest generation in the professional world are not finding any of this relevant.

Overheard at ON_Discourse

It is me taking you out and making you tell me something you don’t want to tell.

This is because news is not a product; we got that wrong. News is a service.

As someone just said at this table, the role of the journalist is not to produce articles. “It is me taking you out and making you tell me something you don’t want to tell.” The format of the information is irrelevant to the audience; the point of thinking this as a service is translating the relevant information into a context that serves that audience member. The act of journalism is hard to automate, but AI can help in converting facts into formats that do a better job of delivering value.

AI should be exciting to newsrooms.This technology can translate complex findings into personalized packages at scale. We are at the precipice of a new era of media and all we have to do is understand what we’re doing here and why. The article is not the point.


Is Media Doomed?

The internet is mutating. Search queries are being replaced by prompts, and search results are turning into direct information. The web has always been perceived as an interconnected network of sites, but this new internet feels more like a magic mirror: prompt and you shall receive. Does this transition mean media is doomed?

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