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Microsoft is teaming up with Semafor on AI-assisted news stories

'Signals' will be written entirely by journalists with Microsoft's chatbot acting as a research tool.

Gary Hershorn via Getty Images

Microsoft is teaming up with media website Semafor on a new project that uses ChatGPT to aid in the creation of news stories, The Financial Times has reported. It's one of several journalistic collaborations Microsoft is set to announce today, and follows a New York Times lawsuit filed against the software giant and its partner, OpenAI, for copyright infringement.

Semafor, co-founded by former Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, will create a feed called "Signals" that will be sponsored by Microsoft for an undisclosed but "substantial" sum, the report states. It will highlight breaking news and analysis, offering a dozen or so posts per day. All stories will be written entirely by journalists, with the AI effectively acting as a research tool.

Signals responds to the deep and continuing shifts in the digital media landscape and the post-social news moment, and to the risks and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence, Semafor wrote.

Specifically, Semafor's team will use AI tools to rapidly find breaking event reporting from other news sources around the world in multiple languages, while providing translation tools. An article might therefore include Chinese, Indian or other sources, with reporters adding context and summarizing the different viewpoints. "Journalists need to adopt these tools in order to survive and thrive for another generation," former AP journalist Noreen Gillespie, now with Microsoft, told The Financial Times.

The use of ChatGPT and other AI chatbots has been controversial in newsrooms, with sites like CNET recently using them to generate entire feature-length articles (albeit with the help of human editors). This despite the fact that AI can "hallucinate" (make up untrue content) and exhibit other kinds of bizarre behavior. Newsrooms are trying to figure out how to use them to improve reporting and potentially compete against chatbots churning out reams of SEO-friendly content.

Late last year, The New York Times announced that it was suing OpenAI and Microsoft for using published news articles to train its chatbots without providing compensation. The lawsuit, which potentially seeks billions in statutory and actual damages, marks the first time a major news organization has pursued ChatGPT's developers for copyright infringement.

Microsoft also announced collaborations today with the Craig Newmark School of Journalism, the GroundTruth Project, the Online News Association and other journalism organizations.