The fear about AI tools replacing writers, editors and designers was not at all unfounded, as some companies have already started replacing people in editorial roles with AI. The news comes from a popular news organization based in Germany, which is laying off around 20 percent of its staff. The company is downsizing its newsroom and replacing employees with artificial intelligence technology.
Axel Springer, a major German media company, is in the news for its decision to lay off 20 percent of its newsroom staff and replace some with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The company’s CEO, Mathias Döppner, who is known to be a friend of Elon Musk, has begun a shift towards a “digital-only” approach, reports CNN.
Positions such as editors, photo editors, proofreaders and other roles involved in print production will be changed or eliminated entirely, according to a memorandum circulated by the publisher. The move will particularly affect Bild, one of Europe’s best-selling newspapers.
Axel Springer is the parent company of various multimedia news brands, including the German publications Bild and Welt, as well as the American news sites Politico and most Insiders.
As reported by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ), Axel Springer informed his employees that unfortunately they would have to let go of colleagues whose tasks could be performed by AI tools like ChatGPT.
The job cuts are expected to affect around 200 of Build’s 1,000 employees. However, a spokesperson for Build clarified to CNN that the layoffs were not directly linked to AI, but that AI can serve as a time-saving and valuable tool for editors and reporters.
In a recent internal memo, CEO Mathias Döfner expressed his belief that artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance independent journalism, make it even better than it already is, or potentially replace it entirely. He emphasized the importance of understanding this transformational change for the future sustainability of publishing houses and stressed that only those who create exceptional original content will be successful. Dopfner also predicted that AI would soon be able to completely take over the layout of printed newspapers.
Axel Springer’s decision to implement AI technology and downsize its workforce reflects an ongoing debate about the impact of automation on traditional roles in various industries, including journalism. The consequences of these changes will undoubtedly shape the future of media and the evolving relationship between AI and human professionals.