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Newsquest appoints its first ‘AI-powered reporter’

AI-generated image of an AI reporter by Stable Diffusion

Regional publisher Newsquest has appointed its first “AI-powered reporter” following a two-month search which, we assume, might have used the latest AI tech to narrow down the field.

Erin Gaskell is the debutante in the post, where she has been given a specific remit to expand the use of AI technology – including using it to create local content. Gaskell has already served almost four years at Newsquest, where she began her career as an apprentice for The Mail in Barrow-in-Furness. She has also written for sister paper, Kendal’s Westmoreland Gazette.

Newsquest first posted the job vacancy online on April 21. It said of the role at the time: “The successful candidate will be at the forefront of a new era in journalism, utilizing [American spelling Newsquest’s own] AI technology to create national, local, and hyper-local content for our news brands, while also applying their traditional journalism skills. This is an exciting opportunity for someone who is passionate about journalism and the potential for AI to transform the way we produce and consume news, without losing sight of the importance of quality reporting and writing.”

The publisher was also keen to emphasise that the successful applicant would be required to use their journalistic abilities in the role, rather than simply type: “Write story about cat stuck in tree in Nantwich” into ChatGPT.

“You’ll play a key role in ensuring that our articles meet the highest standards of accuracy, information, and compliance with media law, plagiarism, and privacy, utilizing [again] your journalistic expertise alongside AI tools,” the ad continued.

Speaking to Hold The Front Page, Gaskell said: “I’m looking forward to applying the skills I’ve built during my time reporting at The Mail to this exciting new AI-powered role. I’ll be adding a crucial layer of oversight and ensuring that humans have the last word when it comes to AI.”

Jody Doherty-Cove, Newsquest’s special projects editor who Gaskell will report to, is leading the publisher’s drive to integrate AI into its newsrooms.

Doherty-Cove said of the new role at the time of its creation: “The AI-powered reporter will play a crucial role in maximising the efficiency and impact of the company’s reporting, while ensuring the highest standards of journalistic integrity.”

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