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Published On: Mon, Jun 1st, 2020

Covid Impacet? Microsoft ‘to replace journalists with robots’

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Microsoft12711NEW DELHI : Microsoft has sacked dozens of journalists as the US multinational technology company decided to replace them with artificial intelligence software. As many as 27 individuals employed by PA Media – formerly the Press Association – were told on Thursday that they would lose their jobs in a month’s time, according to The Guardian report.
Employees were reportedly told Microsoft’s decision to end the contract with PA Media was taken at short notice as part of the company’s decision to shift away from humans in favour of automated updates for news.
Microsoft is one of many tech companies experimenting with forms of so-called robot journalism to cut costs. Google is also investing in projects to understand how it might work. Some sacked journalists warned that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial guidelines, and could end up letting through inappropriate stories.
Microsoft has decided to stop employing humans to select, edit, and curate news articles on its homepages. The employees who used to maintain the news homepages on Microsoft’s MSN website and its Edge browser – used by millions of Britons every day – came to know that robots will now do their jobs.
The decision by Microsoft to replace humans with software is reportedly being seen as risky because the existing staff was careful to stick to “very strict editorial guidelines”. Although the Microsoft team working on the website did not report original stories, it, however, exercised editorial control, selecting stories produced by other news organisations and editing content and headlines where appropriate to fit the format.
Some of the journalists, who had longstanding experience in the industry, would now face a tough challenge to get jobs elsewhere when the whole industry is looking to cut costs. Notably, other teams are also expected to be affected by Microsoft’s decision to automate the curation of its news sites.
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” a Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying.Microsoft said it was part of an evaluation of its business.
The curating of stories from news organisations and selection of headlines and pictures for the MSN site is currently done by journalists. Microsoft, like some other tech companies, pays news organisations to use their content on its website. But it employs journalists to decide which stories to display and how they are presented.
Around 50 contract news producers will lose their jobs at the end of June, the Seattle Times reports, but a team of full-time journalists will remain.
(With Media Inputs ).


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