May 31, 2020, Kathmandu
Microsoft is planning to replace dozens of contract journalists working on the MSN website and its Edge browser. The contract journalists used to collect news and references from media outlets, select headlines, and publish stories on Microsoft’s site.
But now, automated systems will be selecting and publishing news stories replacing the hired journalists.
According to Microsoft, it is a part of their business evaluation process. Starting from June, these news-savvy AI will take over the jobs of around 50 journalists including 27 individuals employed by PA Media (formerly the Press Association).
Microsoft told the employees that they took the decision to end the contract with PA media on short notice. In fact, it is a part of a global shift away from humans. The company is favoring automated news updates by sacking humans.
The company also mentioned that it will help increase investment in some areas and open up new employment opportunities. Moreover, Microsoft confirmed that this decision has nothing to do with the current pandemic.
How are the Staff Reacting?
A staff member previously working on the team told The Guardian that the decision to replace humans by AI is risky. “I spend all my time reading about how automation and AI are going to take all our jobs,” he said. “And here I am – AI has taken my job.”
He claimed that the contract journalists were very strict regarding the editorial guidelines that prevented users from violent or inappropriate content
Future of Automated Journalism
Microsoft is not the only tech giant that is exploring an automated system of journalism. While it is robot journalism to cut costs, Google also seems to be investing in similar projects.
In fact, journalists at Google believe that AI literacy is crucial and that embracing technology will bring a better outcome. Google claims that journalists at Google have built a basic course of Introduction to Machine Learning for journalists. However, there are no efforts to automate the writing and publishing of articles at Google as of now.
Their strategy may be to integrate the human skills with automation but time will tell if AI will make human skills obsolete.