AI coverage of public meetings

Sophie Culpepper with Neiman Lab has a nice exploration of whether and how generative AI could be used to effectively cover what happens at public meetings in a given community.

That said, Talkington also believes that now is the right time to be creating, and tinkering with, Paul. His hope for Paul is not to replace reporters, but to make their jobs more manageable. He’s considering developing a tool that reporters everywhere could use to save time by listening to public meetings and giving them a recap. He thinks this could take the form of an interface where “any reporter can just enter in a URL to a live meeting, and Paul will attend that meeting.” Talkington knows from experience how much time public meetings, which typically run late into the evening, can sap from reporters. He hopes a tool along the lines of Paul could give reporters back some of their lives, or give them more time to focus on other work. And, he noted, reporters already watch recorded meetings a day later in some cases due to scheduling conflicts; perhaps an AI model could eventually allow for more timely reporting in those instances, he suggested.

“What is the biggest time suck as a reporter? It’s going to these six-hour-long City Council meetings, taking 200 pages of notes for an eight-inch story,” he said.

What’s more, Talkington believes a human touch is critical for reader trust. In the Post’s newsroom, “the relationship we have with our audience, and the trust we’ve built with our audience, is because human beings are doing the work and driving the show and interacting with them,” he said. “Being able to use AI to help you more efficiently complete some very mundane tasks seems fine to me. But at the end of the day, I think it has to be a human being who has the final say, has the final edit, and looks over all this. Because it’ll bite you — it could certainly bite you if just left to run by itself.”

Chris Hardie is a journalist, newspaper publisher, software developer and entrepreneur based in Indiana, USA. Read more from Chris on this site, learn more on his personal website, subscribe for updates or follow Chris on Mastodon.

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