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Fake journalist website backs further use of AI in news industry

A local website launched with fake journalist profiles has backed the use of artificial intelligence in the news industry – despite a previous pledge to stop publishing AI-created content.

The Bournemouth Observer, which was exposed for creating questionable AI-created content in an HTFP investigation earlier this month, has welcomed the rumoured launch of Genesis, a new robot tool from Google designed specifically to write news stories.

In an editorial welcoming the project, the Observer has claimed AI can be used to help journalism “without compromising the essence and integrity of news reporting”.

Editor Paul Giles previously denied posting fictional stories onto the site, but admitted some of the content had been “polished” with AI, as well as using what he termed “creative placeholders” to fill blank spaces.


The homepage of the Bournemouth Observer

The homepage of the Bournemouth Observer

His admission came after police failed to find any record of two incidents the Observer had reported.

Following our probe, Mr Giles announced he was set to remove references to the title being a “newspaper” and focus instead on blogging, although dedicated ‘News’ and ‘Headlines’ channels still appear on the site.

In its editorial, the Observer said: “The Bournemouth Observer welcomes this pioneering move by Google.

“It signifies our industry’s readiness to adopt such technological innovations that hold the promise to significantly enhance the role of the journalist without compromisng the essence and integrity of news reporting.

“The evolution of journalism continues, and with AI at the forefront, we look forward to a future where technology and human ingenuity collaborate to deliver accurate, compelling, and high-quality news stories.”

The Observer was originally launched last month with bizarrely-written profiles of 11 ‘journalists’ it claimed to have on staff, including “esteemed editor” David Roberts and “middle-aged journalist” Simon Foster.

However an investigation by HTFP revealed it had used photos from a stock picture archive to illustrate the profiles which Mr Giles later admitted were “pseudonyms”.

We also revealed that the Observer is linked through its IP address to a series of other Dorset businesses including an antiques shop, of which Mr Giles is listed as owner on LinkedIn, a digital marketing operation and a life coaching business.

He subsequently confirmed his intention to move the Observer, which offers advertising opportunities for readers, away from being a news-based project towards being a blog.

HTFP has approached the Observer for further comment.