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Daily Briefing: Insider & CoinDesk Experiment With AI
Good morning! And welcome to Business Side.
In today’s briefing we cover:
Insider & Coindesk’s AI guidelines
The Economist’s podcasting success
The latest Twitter news
Plus other developments across the industry
Let’s get to it.
Insider and CoinDesk experiment with AI. Insider is launching an editorial working group to determine its approach to AI, with an emphasis on how to use AI responsibly to draft text. In the meantime, all Insider staff are encouraged to experiment with AI to generate story outlines, suggest headlines, and understand complex topics.
CoinDesk is a bit further along and last Friday published guidelines on how they’ll use generative AI. Notably, the outlet will allow the use of generative text in some articles, assuming the copy has been run through plagiarism software, reviewed by editors, and clearly disclosed to readers. This approach is less conservative than the stance taken by other outlets like Wired, which isn’t allowing generative copy in any of their stories (for now). CoinDesk isn’t allowing AI-generated images to be used in articles, however, because of pending legislation regarding the use of Getty images as training data.
These newsrooms are smart to develop editorial guidelines and encourage experimentation. With the right guidance, editors and journalists will be able to identify AI use cases that make their work more efficient and, perhaps, even more creative.
It will also be important for publishers to think about AI holistically across departments. The Guardian’s AI working group appears to be incorporating input from multiple stakeholders, including editors, engineers, and even academics. This type of cross-functional effort will take time but can help avoid duplicative work and yield a more considered approach.
The Economist’s podcasting success. Podcasts are their “fastest-growing platform,” according to president Bob Cohn, and the company plans to add new shows later this year. Last month The Economist had about 25 million downloads across its five regular shows. (For reference, NYT's The Daily averages about 125 million monthly downloads.)
A recent Vulture piece explores several drivers of their success:
Their podcasts are authentic to The Economist brand. While many other podcasts lean into the medium’s intimacy, The Economist’s shows are “pleasantly aloof, even indifferent.” They don’t talk down to the listener and are “explicitly not for everybody.”
The publication throws its “institutional weight” behind podcasting. Last year, The Intelligence scored an early sit-down with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
They take big swings, specifically by investing in audio documentaries. Last year, they launched a podcast series on Chinese president Xi Jinping that has driven 9 million downloads. Last month, they launched a new audio doc exploring the perspectives of Russians who oppose their country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The latest at Twitter. The news never stops at the company formerly known as Twitter Inc.:
Twitter Inc. merged ($) into X Corp, a privately held company incorporated in Nevada. While the Twitter app is not changing its name, the merger set off speculation about Elon Musk’s intentions to create an “everything app,” which he has previously referred to as “X.”
Twitter launched subscriptions, allowing users to offer paywalled content to their followers. Twitter won’t take a cut for the first year, though platform fees from iOS (30%), Android (30%), and web (~8%) will still apply.
Twitter Blue subscribers can now write Tweets with up to 10,000 characters (previously the limit was 4,000) and use bold and italic text formatting.
Twitter’s ad revenue among its top clients is down year over year. According to Sensor Tower data, the top 50 advertisers on the platform spent $83 million in the past two months, down from $102 million during the same period last year. The research firm Insider Intelligence cut its annual Twitter ad revenue forecast to $2.98 billion, which would represent a 28% YoY decline.
Outside of Twitter, Elon is reportedly planning to launch ($) an AI startup to compete with OpenAI. An anonymous source: “It’s real and they are excited about it.”
Vice hired an interim CFO as it continues to look for a buyer.
Leaked controversial messages from Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner raised questions over editorial meddling.
The sports streaming startup Buzzer raised ($) $20 million in new funding and has started licensing talks with leagues and networks.
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) launched a $12 million fund in partnership with Google and YouTube.
Instagram announced several new creator-focused features for Reels, including a new section for trending audio and hashtags.
The Verge interviewed Substack CEO Chris Best following the launch of Notes.
Spotify is courting radio broadcasters with new tech that can automatically turn a radio program into a podcast.
Spotify is shutting down Heardle, the “Wordle for audio” game it acquired last year.
Parler was acquired ($) by digital media company Starbird and temporarily shut down ahead of a planned relaunch.
The newsletter Madison and Wall published a table of the top 20 media companies by advertising revenue.
AI & Tech:
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman confirmed that his company isn’t working on GPT-5 and “won’t for some time.”
The European Parliament is preparing ($) new AI regulation, including measures that would require companies to disclose if they used copyrighted material as training data.
Two German entrepreneurs published a magazine with content produced entirely by ChatGPT and Midjourney.
Q1 of this year saw ($) only 68 VC deals in media compared to 137 in Q1 last year.
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