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Regional publishers to share fears that AI could lower standards

Ministers are set to hear regional press bosses’ fears about artificial intelligence in local news amid fears it could  lead to a “lowering of editorial and ethical standards.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is to speak with industry representatives – including those from regional publishers – in a bid to ensure journalists are “protected from the risks of AI while benefiting from the opportunities it offers”.

Among the items on the agenda will be concerns about increased competition from AI firms and others who “may have lower editorial and ethical standards” than traditional publishers.

The meeting comes after we revealed this summer how the Bournemouth Observer, purportedly a local news website, had been launched using fake journalist profiles and questionable AI-created content.

Lucy Frazer

The Observer site currently appears to be inactive, with no new content having been uploaded to it for almost two months.

Invitees to today’s roundtable discussion in Westminster include Iliffe Media, National World, Newsquest and Reach plc, as well as national publishers.

Industry bodies including the National Council for the Training of Journalists, National Union of Journalists, the News Media Association and the Public Interest News Foundation are also set to attend.

Also on the agenda will be concerns about news organisations losing control of their copyright material to develop and train AI models like ChatGPT, along with the spread of AI-generated misinformation and disinformation – although opportunities presented by AI for newsrooms will be discussed as well.

Ms Frazer, pictured, said: “The rapid development of AI poses huge questions for the future of our country’s world-class news industry. I want to make sure that we are supporting journalists and writers who are grappling with the impact of this revolutionary technology.

“The UK is a world leading democratic AI power and globally renowned for our rigorous and fearless press.

“We want to make sure we are also leading the world in how we respond to this developing technology so the things that are precious to us – our creative industries, our media – are protected, whilst harnessing the benefits that this innovation brings.

“One of my focuses is how to enhance press freedom. I want to listen closely to the views of the media industry to make sure journalists are protected from the risks of AI while benefiting from the opportunities it offers.”