Skip to main content

Unbiased. Straight Facts.TM

Tech

This AI tool may let news reporters get back to journalism ‘out there in the world’

Jun 05, 2023

Share

A B2B SAAS company, HeyWire AI, is in the process of developing an AI news engine that could free up journalists to focus on original reporting. HeyWire AI founder and CEO Von Raees said the product is called Wells in honor of 19th century journalist Ida B. Wells.

Raees said that Wells will be able to automate aggregation, freeing up journalists to focus on more original stories.

Raees founded a publishing company in 1996 and that is where he noticed that aggregation was a drag on resources.

“Our journalists are spending a lot of time on the internet, looking for leads, researching stories, and then writing their own versions of that,” Raees said. “That takes away from them being out in the field doing like, true journalism, like original content, investigative work that’s out there in the world – not so much on the internet.”

“The purpose of Wells is to do the mundane work of research, finding leads, researching various stories, and generating articles from those stories, submitting that to editors for publishing,” Raees said. “If we allow Wells to take care of that, then journalists can actually be in the field, doing what they’re passionate about doing.”

Wells is still in development, but Raees hopes to launch it sometime in mid-2024. Raees said HeyWire AI has spoken with multiple national and local publishers about beta testing the engine.

“We’re going to spend some substantial amount of time and volume testing, testing, testing, trying to break it, see what we come up with, and make all of those changes and corrections, before we ever launch a product for general market,” Raees said.

The development of Wells comes at a time when smaller digital outlets continue to struggle competing with legacy media. AI tools like Wells can automate tasks like aggregation, freeing up resources to focus on better reporting.

An AP-NORC poll from early 2023 shows 57% of respondents found deeper reporting to be “very helpful” in trying to understand current events.

“Our intention is to sort of democratize the use of journalism tools, and empower small to medium size news organizations, and to enable small organizations like ourselves to, like our own publishing company, to be able to compete with the larger organizations on scales that they currently are not available to compete,” Raees said.

Wells is just one example of artificial intelligence tools that are entering newsrooms nationwide. Ultimately, it’s up to each newsroom to decide how comfortable they are with AI and how they will use it. The Radio Television Digital News Association has issued guidance encouraging newsrooms to consider these issues as AI inevitably enters the industry.

Tags: ,

SHANNON LONGWORTH: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL SURELY PLAY MANY DIFFERENT ROLES IN THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM.

EXPERIMENTS ABOUND–AND NOT JUST IN THE FORM OF CREEPY VIRTUAL ANCHORS.

ONE NEWS PUBLISHER IS DEVELOPING A.I. TO EASE THE BURDEN OF AGGREGATION.

VON RAEES: “IF IT’S ALREADY ON THE INTERNET, IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE, SOMEBODY PUT IT THERE.”

LONGWORTH: VON RAEES FOUNDED A MEDIA COMPANY IN 1996 AND HE’D NOTICED THAT AGGREGATION WAS A DRAG ON RESOURCES IN DIGITAL NEWS, WHICH IS ALREADY STRUGGLING TO FIND A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS MODEL.

RAEES: “OUR JOURNALISTS ARE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME ON THE INTERNET, LOOKING FOR LEADS, RESEARCHING STORIES, AND THEN WRITING THEIR OWN VERSIONS OF THAT. THAT TAKES AWAY FROM THEM BEING OUT IN THE FIELD DOING LIKE, TRUE JOURNALISM, LIKE ORIGINAL CONTENT, INVESTIGATIVE WORK THAT’S OUT THERE IN THE WORLD–NOT SO MUCH ON THE INTERNET.”

NEARLY ALL NEWS OUTLETS HAVE TEAMS TO SEARCH AND GATHER THE BIGGEST STORIES OF THE DAY, ORIGINALLY COVERED BY OTHER SOURCES. THIS CAN PROVIDE VIEWERS WITH MORE COMPREHENSIVE NEWS, IN ADDITION TO THEIR OWN REPORTING.

WE CAN’T ALL SEND REPORTERS TO BEIRUT, FOR EXAMPLE. [SOUND POP]

SO SOME AGGREGATING IN NEWS IS REQUIRED. BUT WITH LIMITED RESOURCES, THAT MAY NOT LEAVE ENOUGH MONEY, OR PEOPLE TO COVER ORIGINAL, MORE SUBSTANTIVE STORIES, WHICH DO COST MORE TO PRODUCE.

TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE IN HIS OWN PUBLISHING COMPANY, RAEES FOUNDED HEYWIRE AI, WHICH CREATED A FULLY AUTONOMOUS AI NEWS ENGINE.

IT’S CALLED WELLS–NAMED AFTER 19TH CENTURY JOURNALIST IDA B. WELLS.

RAEES: “THE PURPOSE OF WELLS IS TO DO THE MUNDANE WORK OF RESEARCH, FINDING LEADS, RESEARCHING VARIOUS STORIES, AND GENERATING ARTICLES FROM THOSE STORIES, SUBMITTING THAT TO EDITORS FOR PUBLISHING. IF WE ALLOW WELLS TO TAKE CARE OF THAT, THEN JOURNALISTS CAN ACTUALLY BE IN THE FIELD, DOING WHAT THEY’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT DOING.”

LONGWORTH: I ASKED RAEES HOW HE CAN BE SURE THAT WELLS IS ACCURATE.

BECAUSE I’VE TESTED CHATGPT AND BARD’S ABILITY TO WRITE ARTICLES…AND THEY SOMETIMES MAKE UP INFORMATION. HOW DO WE KEEP AN AUTOMATED NEWSROOM FROM SPREADING MISINFORMATION TO MASSIVE AUDIENCES?

RAEES: “THIS IS WHY OUR PATENT WAS 66 PAGES. BECAUSE WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME CREATING ARCHITECTURE FOR MULTIPLE REDUNDANT SYSTEMS.” / “IT RECHECKS TO MAKE SURE THERE’S NO HALLUCINATION GOING ON BY VERIFYING WITH MULTIPLE SOURCES, EVERY SINGLE FACT THAT’S IN THAT STORY. AND AFTER IT’S DONE ALL OF THAT, AND ENSURES THAT THERE’S NO HALLUCINATION, THAT’S WHEN IT GETS SUBMITTED TO EDITORS FOR PUBLISHING.”

RAEES SAYS EDITORS ARE STILL A PART OF THE PROCESS AS ANOTHER LAYER OF VERIFICATION. WELLS WOULD DO MOST OF THE WORK, BUT IT WON’T PUBLISH ARTICLES ON ITS OWN.

RAEES: “OUR INTENTION IS TO SORT OF DEMOCRATIZE THE USE OF JOURNALISM TOOLS, AND EMPOWER SMALL TO MEDIUM SIZE NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, AND TO ENABLE SMALL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE OURSELVES TO, LIKE OUR OWN PUBLISHING COMPANY, TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE WITH THE LARGER ORGANIZATIONS ON SCALES THAT THEY CURRENTLY ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO COMPETE.”

LONGWORTH: THE LOSS OF BUZZFEED NEWS AND VICE MEDIA’S BANKRUPTCY SHOW SMALLER DIGITAL OUTLETS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE COMPETING WITH LEGACY MEDIA. AI TOOLS LIKE WELLS CAN AUTOMATE TASKS LIKE AGGREGATION, FREEING UP RESOURCES TO FOCUS ON BETTER REPORTING.

AN AP-NORC POLL FROM EARLY 2023 SHOWS 57% OF RESPONDENTS FOUND DEEPER REPORTING TO BE “VERY HELPFUL” IN TRYING TO UNDERSTAND CURRENT EVENTS.

RAEES SAYS HEYWIRE IS HOPING TO LAUNCH WELLS SOMETIME MID-2024

RAEES: “THERE ARE MULTIPLE NATIONAL AND LOCAL PUBLISHERS THAT WE’RE IN CONVERSATIONS WITH, TO PARTNER WITH FOR BETA TESTING. SO WE’RE GOING TO SPEND SOME SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF TIME AND VOLUME TESTING, TESTING, TESTING, TRYING TO BREAK IT, SEE WHAT WE COME UP WITH, AND MAKE ALL OF THOSE CHANGES AND CORRECTIONS, BEFORE WE EVER LAUNCH A PRODUCT FOR GENERAL MARKET.”

LONGWORTH: I’M HUMAN REPORTER SHANNON LONGWORTH, ON THE A.I. BEAT FOR STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.

By entering your email, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and acknowledge the Privacy Policy.