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This story is utterly, utterly depressing and utterly, utterly predictable.
Web strategist Joe Shervell used ChatGPT to ‘interview’ a collection of British newspapers. He prompted the chatbot to create personas that represented people who ‘only understood the world’ through reading specific papers. He went on to ask ChatGPT to answer a series of five questions, first as it normally would and then as each of the personas. The bias displayed in the answers from the tabloid personas is truly terrifying.
Unfortunately certain publications turned ChatGPT into something between a drunk uncle and a paranoid, xenophobic lunatic.
Joe goes to some lengths to point out this is not a scientific study, but the bias displayed in the answers from the tabloid personas is truly terrifying. I don’t know what’s more frightening… that AI can replicate this kind of bias seamlessly or that it’s out there day in day, day out in newspapers read by millions of people. Actually I do know… give me mindless robots over publishers exploiting the culture wars any day.
I wrote this for What’s New In Publishing, safely separate from the annual predictions season. It’s a list of the things that I hope happen in what’s already shaping up to be an interesting, if testing, 2023. Maybe predictably, my wishlist focuses on value, commercial sustainability and revenue diversification in all its wonderful forms. Oh, and if Elmo could just leave Twitter alone. A print resurgence would be nice too…
Talking of print, this story from FIPP cheered me up. Pitch is a new print quarterly looking at issues in sports rather than scorelines – from the concussion debate in rugby union, to the rise of women’s sports or the human rights controversy that surrounded the Football World Cup in Qatar. Publisher Kevin Whitchurch says it’s a magazine that ‘invites you to kick off your shoes and find a comfortable chair’. I’m in.
And speaking of sport, this story from Digiday shows what digital media exposure you could get for the $7 million you would need to buy a Superbowl ad. It lists the number of impressions you could expect to get from Netflix, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. It could also bag you up to between 280 ads in a range of US newspapers. Bargain!
On this week’s episode, we hear from Sarah Ebner, Executive Editor and Head of Newsletters at the Financial Times. She tells us about her role leading the newsletter team at the FT, and the value of newsletters in subscriber acquisition and retention but also as paid products in their own right.
In the news roundup we take a thorough look at what the integration of ChatGPT and Bard into search results means for news and magazine publishers. In the news in brief, the Mastodon Bump has levelled out, DC Thomson announces 300 job cuts, and we ask why subscription revenue is outperforming expectations.