Five Key Takeouts: AI & Creativity

June 21, 2024

In our third session in partnership with the Washington Post around the value of trusted journalism in 2024, Jamie Credland chaired a discussion about AI and its impact and potential across the media industry. Joining him on the panel were Claire Davidson, Executive Strategy Director for Twogether, and Suzi Watford, Chief Strategy Officer at the Washington Post. 

  1. AI efficiencies for agencies

Claire Davidson began by sharing insights from an agency perspective, emphasising that AI has been a substantial part of their operations for more than a year. Each department within the agency has been developing AI use cases to enhance their work. The strategy department, for example, uses AI to gain deeper audience insights and to create personas. The creative department leverages AI to speed up the development of ideas and to scale production by creating AI-generated drafts, which are subsequently reviewed by humans. They also use AI for note-taking day-to-today, and for gathering industry insights (with the caveat that sources need to be double-checked and validated).

Davidson stressed the importance of putting the right guard rails and training in place for AI usage, ensuring transparency, and maintaining human oversight to prevent errors in gen AI outputs. She also highlighted the importance of getting the prompting right – Twogether has dedicated a lot of time working on prompt engineering to ensure that the AI output is relevant and of high-quality.

  1. AI’s role in the editorial process

The Washington Post has also been using AI in various capacities for some time. Suzi Watford explained how their six month ‘Build It’ plan aims to embed AI across all operations, enhancing efficiency, building products and experiences and supporting journalists in their work. They have appointed a dedicated AI editor in the newsroom who reports both to the Editor-in-Chief and the CTO. This ensures the team is learning quickly and that the latest AI advancements can be integrated into the editorial processes. It is helping to upskill newsroom staff, both in terms of improving prompt engineering and in spotting deep fakes or negative uses of AI. 

  1. AI as an enabler for journalism

AI is also assisting journalists by speeding up information-gathering and analysis. Watford gave the example of the January 6th riots in 2021. It took journalists a huge amount of time to gather information from all the photography and video footage to work out exactly what had happened. Now, AI can be used to compile vast amounts of data, allowing journalists to report more quickly and accurately. Rather than replacing journalists, it can be used as an enabler, allowing them to focus on the more critical aspects of their work while AI handles the repetitive, time-heavy tasks.

  1. Trust and transparency in AI

The panellists emphasised the importance of trust and transparency in using AI in the context of both marketing and journalism. Davidson said that it was essential to be transparent about AI usage with clients and to ensure that any AI-generated content aligned with brand values. Twogether has clear internal governance around how AI is used, for example, checking for copyright issues around creative, or ensuring that no sensitive client data is shared. 

Watford explained that the Washington Post maintains trust by clearly labelling AI-generated content and ensuring it meets editorial standards. For example, they publish AI-generated story summaries, but these are clearly labelled as “AI created, newsroom reviewed”, and checked over by human editors to uphold trust and credibility.

  1. The future of AI for the industry

Looking ahead, both Davidson and Watford foresee significant advancements in AI’s role within the industry. On the agency side, services and client interactions are evolving to incorporate AI-driven insights and efficiencies that will help to deliver better outcomes for clients. 

The Washington Post continues to explore innovative AI applications, such as its climate bot, which provides accurate and up-to-date information based on the high-quality editorial that’s being fed into it from the Post’s journalists.

As AI continues to evolve, its integration into marketing, content creation and journalism heralds new opportunities that will fundamentally change how we operate. However, the underlying message from our panellists was that to successfully leverage AI within our industry, trust, transparency and human oversight must remain at the heart of everything we do.