Credit: Fred Moon on Unsplash

While the media is obsessing about ChatGPT, Reuters has been quietly innovating its Connect marketplace that provides client newsrooms with photo and video materials.

New AI-powered features allow journalists to quickly find people and moments in Reuters videos, which helps speed up editing and publishing processes. The tech also applies automated time-coded, speech-to-text transcripts, translation and identification of public figures. Metadata also makes it easier to discover and license Reuters content that can be auto-published to a chosen platform, saving journalists time.

Senior product manager Conor Molumby said that customer need was at the heart of the innovation.

"All users need speed and anything that chops off even milliseconds gives us a competitive advantage," he adds.

The use of AI to identify faces or transcribe audio has been around for years but this latest enhancement significantly improves accuracy and quality of results. This is possible thanks to millions of pictures and videos that Reuters owns, as large vision-language models depend on huge datasets for training.

Like with any AI-powered product, Reuters was looking to address issues around diversity early on. The features were tested by its ethics experts for bias, such as poor quality transcription of regional accents or less accurate identification of non-white people. While the quality of a transcript still depends a lot on the original material - the machine will "understand" a studio recording much better than a poorly shot user-generated video - the results are promising.

"We are very transparent about anything that is done by AI or that is machine-generated," said Molumby about ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI in the newsroom. The technology has the potential to speed up news gathering and publishing when used ethically and responsibly.

"Artificial intelligence presents an opportunity, not a threat," added Sue Brooks, head of Reuters News Agency.

"There's a hunger to understand the technology and what surprised me is how much our customers are looking up to us to be thought leaders in this space."

In the future, the applied innovation team wants to expand the product with more languages and will also make it easier for machines to "read" the content, since many users of Reuters Connect are not humans.

Reuters is running a webinar on AI in the newsroom on 27 July 2023. You can sign up here.

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