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How Newsquest and its seven AI-assisted reporters are using ChatGPT

The company's head of editorial AI said it had published "thousands" of AI-assisted articles.

By Bron Maher

Regional publisher Newsquest is now employing seven AI-assisted reporters across the UK, the company’s head of editorial AI has confirmed.

The company appointed its first AI-supported journalist, Erin Gaskell, to the Hexham Courant in June.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker told a Press Gazette event last month that when Hexham’s Sycamore Gap tree was felled in September, “the AI system reporter could pretty much hold the fort for the week filling the paper, and it freed the other reporter to go out and do really good investigative stuff, videos, and get behind the story”.

How do the Newsquest AI-assisted reporters use ChatGPT?

Newsquest’s head of editorial AI Jody Doherty-Cove told the NCTJ’s artificial intelligence in journalism event on Tuesday the publisher has built an in-house tool that drafts stories “based on trusted information”.

He demonstrated the dashboard that Newsquest’s seven AI-assisted journalists use. It features a “Notes” input field on the left into which reporters feed the information they have gathered. Typical inputs might include a press release or quotes from a source.

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The generative AI then creates a story, displayed in the right-hand panel, for the reporter to review.

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A picture of Newsquest's dashboard for its AI-assisted reporters.
A presentation slide showing Newsquest’s AI dashboard with a “Notes” field on the left and the output “Story” field on the right. Picture: Press Gazette

Doherty-Cove said: “We’re using this to alleviate the burden of the mundane, but very important, tasks that were on reporters, freeing them up to do that human touch journalism that really resonates with the communities.”

He described the set-up as a “human in the loop system” – meaning, one that ensures a journalist checks AI-generated copy so reporters “have first and last word when it comes to anything that’s produced”.

The journalists are primarily doing five things, Doherty-Cove said: ensuring the copy is accurate, exercising editorial judgement, protecting data and copyright and watching for any bias. He noted that sensitive information and personal data have to be kept away from AI systems that are not closed so they do not inadvertently end up elsewhere.

“We’ve produced thousands of articles this way, and we haven’t had any major errors reach the publishing stage,” Doherty-Cove said.

“It’s just acting as a hyper-efficient copywriter – drafting the story on certain instructions, and then it goes back to the reporter who reviews the draft before publishing it.”

[Read more: Telegraph journalists told use of ChatGPT will result in same sanctions as plagiarism]

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Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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