Aug 8, 2023 - Economy

Exclusive: OpenAI funds new journalism ethics initiative

Illustration of four unique hands with pens contributing to the same hand-written scribble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

OpenAI, the parent company to ChatGPT, will fund a new journalism ethics initiative at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with a $395,000 grant, executives told Axios.

Why it matters: It's part of a broader effort by OpenAI to provide support for quality journalism, which it relies on to train its algorithms.

Details: "The initiative will provide workshops and discussions on existing and emerging journalism ethics issues," said Stephen Adler, former editor-in-chief of Reuters, who will lead the initiative.

  • Those issues include "how to deal with covering the 2024 election in the face of disinformation and polarization, how to manage the challenges of AI, and how to create diverse newsrooms and to cover marginalized communities with knowledge and insight," he told Axios.
  • It will also produce articles and papers for its own website and other outlets, he added.

Between the lines: In addition to the funding from OpenAI, the initiative also includes $50,000 from the Carter Journalism Institute's Journalism Venture Capital Fund, which provides startup capital for faculty projects focused on challenges in journalism, democracy and freedom of expression.

Be smart: OpenAI's funding represents its first-ever academic grant focused on journalism.

  • The tech giant has already begun pouring other funds into newsrooms and journalism non-profits, most notably, the Associated Press and the American Journalism Project.
  • Tom Rubin, OpenAI's chief of intellectual property and content, said OpenAI is "committed to ensuring that artificial intelligence is both beneficial and safe, and we welcome independent research, workshops, and discussions to help ensure a positive role for AI in the news industry."

The big picture: Newsrooms across the country are grappling with the best way to leverage artificial intelligence in a way that supports their journalism without compromising it.

  • For now, most outlets are experimenting with generative AI technology in their newsrooms, while weighing wider use on the business side.

The bottom line: "As trust in the media declines, and advances in technology pose fresh challenges, practicing journalism ethically is more important than it's ever been," Adler said in a statement.

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