ChatGPT and AI don’t seem to be a here today, almost gone tomorrow fad like the Metaverse and NFTs.
A recent webinar I recently attended on the state of journalism hosted by Muck Rack CEO and Co-founder Greg Galant, tried to place the craze in context. Media across all sectors are brainstorming how they can incorporate this budding technology into their work.
As it stands today, the tech is not replacing humans. Chelsea Jones, a reporter for CBS Miami said there’s a place for AI in journalism and PR but it’s too early to say exactly where. Local news endures despite changes in technology since it is grounded in the local community’s trust for their reporters.
As my colleague David touched on in his latest blog post, ChatGPT is capable of generating content, but can it generate well-written content? Not yet.
Can AI write an award-winning investigative article? Again, not yet. It can generate ideas and formatting that a journalist could use to create said article. Acquired knowledge will likely help the tech operate more independently, but the best results will use machine learning in tandem with the human experience. The technology will be able to create content that is structurally sound, and the human aspect provides the necessary emotional nuance needed to make an impact on the reader.
Emergence of new mediums for news
A recurring theme in the webinar was the use of social media and digital platforms, and their perceived positive and negative impacts. The spreading of disinformation across the web was the biggest concern amongst surveyed journalists, with trust in journalism and media representing another major concern. And while new platforms have given readers and reporters more channels for consuming news, the looming threat of disinformation makes it difficult for us to know what sources to trust.
TikTok is an enjoyable source of entertainment, Chelsea said, but urges everyone to seek out information and news from more reputable sources. I agree. Other fresher forms of media, like Substack newsletters – which I wrote about in my last blog – are easy to access and can feature deep reporting. They deliver in-depth insight and are often written by established journalists whose passion for the topic shines in their writing.
Getting social with the media
A recent Muck Rack survey revealed that Twitter is the most valued social network by journalists, with Facebook narrowly nudging out LinkedIn for number two. However, journalists plan to spend more time on LinkedIn and YouTube moving forward, and less time on Facebook.
Facebook has historically been ripe with disinformation, and at first glance, to see that some journalists do trust it for their reporting is quite surprising. Chelsea pointed out that the platform can be used to find stories and sources and is a useful platform for publicizing articles. Even though the platform is declining in importance, it’s important not to neglect it, she said.
I urge you to look at a journalist’s Facebook page, and their publication’s page, because they may engage on that platform in a unique way compared to Twitter or LinkedIn. Advise your clients on their social profiles to ensure they maintain a professional look and house interesting content. It could improve their reputation and might lead to journalists seeking out social content for insight.
The desire to spend more time on YouTube also caught my eye. The New York Times (4.28M subscribers), The Wall Street Journal (4.13M subscribers), and The Financial Times (888k subscribers) all have a solidified YouTube presence and post frequently, but to me it doesn’t appear to be a useful outlet for PR professionals.
The platform does, however, offer a new way to engage with the news, and this is where I see value. A reporter you plan to pitch may have their own YouTube page. Understanding the type of content they produce can help you stand out by making a connection. Just as reporters are looking to Twitter and Facebook for inspiration, I think they may do the same with YouTube. Advising clients to push out content on their own channel may provide fresh insight for reporters.
Most of the surveyed journalists said they track their stories on social media after they’re posted, and when they’re reporting on a company, they look at the company’s social profiles across all channels. This reinforces the need to have your clients maintain a healthy social presence.
Outside of social media, the webinar reenforced the importance of making an impact when pitching to journalists, something that many pitches lack, according to the panelist. Too often and don’t clearly and quickly state why the story being pitched is important to the journalist and their readers. This echoes an ever-important detail of any pitch – get to the point quickly.
Elia Levitin is a senior account executive in New York