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Vice is preparing to file for bankruptcy
Here’s the latest in digital media:
Vice is preparing to file for bankruptcy. It may still avoid bankruptcy by finding a buyer, but that’s not looking likely. If Vice does go bankrupt, Fortress Investment Group would likely eventually control the company as the largest debtholder. The news comes after Vice announced a round of layoffs last week.
BuzzFeed News’ last-ditch effort was entertainment & culture news. In the past year, the outlet shifted its focus from hard news toward pop culture coverage – mimicking the strategy that helped HuffPost reach profitability. Of course the pivot wasn’t enough to save the site.
The Athletic shared its top priorities. The company reorganized its editorial leadership around six priorities: 1) Be the “first place” sports fans visit for news, 2) Create “addictive” products, 3) Onboard & retain top talent, 4) Maximize audience reach, 5) Grow internationally, and 6) Continue to produce narrative & investigative pieces.
iHeartMedia acquired an AI-powered podcast. In the podcast, called “Daily Dad Jokes,” an AI-generated host reads jokes sourced from the “Dad Jokes” subreddit on Reddit. The podcast’s creator is Graeme Klass, who runs a number of other AI-powered podcasts, including Daily Shower Thoughts, Daily Facts, and Daily Life Pro Tips.
Let’s talk about iHeartMedia’s AI-powered podcast.
So I listened to “Daily Dad Jokes.”
The podcast opens with crowd chatter you might hear at a standup comedy venue. Then a vaguely robotic voice launches into one liners. After five minutes of dad jokes, the AI-generated comedian introduces itself as “Bob Jeffey” and thanks listeners for tuning in.
The podcast has 141 ratings on Apple Podcasts, and the vast majority are five-star ratings. “I send [this podcast] to kids and grandkids most every night,” one commenter wrote. (My heart goes out to this commenter’s kids and grandkids.)
Although this podcast seems unusual, in many ways it’s quite similar to the automated text-based newsletters produced by many publishers. Just as “Daily Dad Jokes” takes one liners from Reddit, automated newsletters take headlines from articles.
News publishers have to be more careful than comedy podcasts when experimenting with AI. They need to get the facts right, while entertainment content doesn’t have this limitation.
Are there ways AI could build trust with readers? In one interesting experiment, a Norwegian publisher trained AI on one of its journalist's voices, which now “reads” articles aloud. Transparently presenting such efforts as experiments enables readers to participate in the process of exploring AI together.
And here’s more news from around the industry:
Nate Silver owns IP in his election models that he will keep after leaving FiveThirtyEight.
Axios Local launched a newsletter in Portland and now spans 28 cities.
President Biden called for the release of journalists Evan Gershkovich and Austin Tice at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Hearst and its union have agreed on a deal.
A NewsGuard report found 49 AI-powered content farms masquerading as news sites.
A top AI expert left Google and warned about potential dangers, including killer robots.
Health systems are using AI to draft responses to patient questions.
An experiment used ChatGPT and brain imaging to turn thoughts into text.
Sinclair is shutting down local coverage at a number of TV stations.
Standard General likely won’t be able to acquire Tegna.
Unions in Hollywood want to restrict the use of AI.
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