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Feb. 5, 2024, 11:49 a.m.
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Lovely to see Microsoft making new friends in journalism! The tech giant, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, is “launching several collaborations with news organizations to adopt generative AI,” it announced Monday. Those partnerships:

Semafor will work with us to harness AI tools to assist journalists in their research, source discovery, translation, and more with Semafor Signals, helping journalists provide a diverse array of credible local, national, and global sources to their audience.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will invite experienced journalists to a tuition-free program to explore ways to incorporate generative AI into their work and newsrooms in a three-month hybrid and highly interactive program. The AI Journalism Lab will be run by Nikita Roy, a data scientist, entrepreneur, and host of the podcast Newsroom Robots, which explores AI applications in journalism.

The Online News Association will embark on a year of AI programming that aims to inform, educate, and convene journalists to discuss AI solutions and policies, and scale best practices across the industry. The programming will include lab sessions to test tools, practical training, and a monthly gathering of innovators to share experiences.

The GroundTruth Project, which sends local journalists into newsrooms around the world through its Report for America and Report for the World programs, will add an AI track of work for its corps members through the AI in Local News initiative with the goal of helping make reporting and newsrooms themselves more efficient and sustainable for the future.

Nota, a startup dedicated to putting high-quality AI tools into newsrooms to help improve newsroom operations, has expanded to more than a 100 newsrooms with support from Microsoft. Its suite of tools are helping newsrooms reach new audiences, expand social media presence and better tailor content to audience information needs. Nota will soon release a new tool called PROOF, an assistive recommendation widget that will give real-time tips to journalists and editors about how to better reach audiences with their content through readability, SEO analysis, link integrity, and more.

Microsoft’s announcement was written by Noreen Gillespie, who started as the first-ever journalism director of Microsoft’s Democracy Forward initiative this fall after more than two decades at the Associated Press. “Working directly with newsrooms, universities, journalists, and industry groups,” Gillespie wrote, Microsoft “will help these organizations use AI to grow audiences, streamline time-consuming tasks in the newsroom, and build sustainable business operations. Our goal is to support thriving, sustainable newsrooms with the technology they need to perform the essential function of informing the world.”

At least one of the partners announced Monday also appears to be receiving actual Microsoft money. “As part of the agreement, Microsoft is paying an undisclosed sum of money to Semafor” to sponsor Signals, the FT reported. “The companies would not share financial details, but the amount of money is ‘substantial’ to Semafor’s business, said a person familiar with the matter…[Semafor] made more than $10 million in revenue in 2023.”

Microsoft insists it doesn’t own a traditional stake in OpenAI, though, as Charles Duhigg reported recently in The New Yorker, it has “effectively received a forty-nine-per-cent stake in OpenAI’s for-profit arm, and the right to commercialize OpenAI’s inventions, past and future, in updated versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and other products — including Skype and the Xbox gaming console — and in anything new it might come up with.” The New York Times is suing Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement.

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