Publishers create task forces to oversee AI programs

Publishers create task forces to oversee AI programs

What started out as an informal dabbling with generative AI technology inside publishers’ newsrooms has developed into a full-fledged focus area for some media companies.

New teams are being formed within BuzzFeed, BridgeTower Media, Forbes, Ingenio and Trusted Media Brands, all dedicated to overseeing AI initiatives within different parts of their respective companies, ranging from editorial to tech.

Editorial executives previously told Digiday in February they were encouraging employees in their newsrooms to familiarize themselves with generative AI and chatbots like ChatGPT to see if the technology could help them perform their jobs better.

Now, some companies have formalized teams to lead AI-driven experiments and projects:

BuzzFeed has a “brain trust” of about a dozen people that formed in December 2022, a spokesperson said. While it’s an “informal” and “fluid” group, the team consists of CEO Jonah Peretti, svp of editorial Jess Probus and founding editor and executive director of growth trends Peggy Wang. It also includes representatives from the tech and engineering departments, including a machine learning specialist.BridgeTower Media has a seven-person team that was put together in mid-March by David Saabye, svp of digital product management at the B2B media company, to focus on AI experimentation and guidelines. Forbes also formed a seven-person group in March charged with discussing and establishing AI-related policies, a spokesperson said. The group includes representatives from the company’s corporate communications, human resources, legal, data privacy, editorial and cybersecurity teams. Ingenio hired director of growth, Geoff Skow, a year ago to oversee AI initiatives. Skow works with a team of five people from editorial, engineering and UX design to determine how to use generative AI to grow Ingenio’s audience, said president of media Josh Jaffe.Trusted Media Brands put together a team of nine people a month ago, led by chief technology officer Nick Contardo and chief business officer Cameron Saless. The group was formed to “talk to other leaders at this company to hear what they think about [AI and machine learning] and how this could impact them and what we could do with it,” Contardo said.

TMB’s task force is discussing one or two “mid-size” AI projects the company can invest in over the next six months, Contardo told Digiday, but holistically has three purposes: sharing AI learnings between departments, determining which AI initiatives to test and deciding on company policy around the usage of generative AI and ML technology. The team is made up of managers from several teams, including business development, editorial and sales and marketing.