Interview: Publishers & AI

Media Chinese International Ltd (MCIL) plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its operations leading to a workforce reduction of up to 44% within the next five years, according to news report.

Campaign Asia, the renowned international trade, contacted me to comment on this matter. Below are my views shared in the Campaign’s coverage:

1. AI and generative AI technologies have been developing rapidly, they will help revive how publishers operate, and MCIL should also benefit from it. For example, generative AI technologies can help journalists draft articles and increase efficiency, allowing them to focus on non-repetitive tasks such as content planning, interviewing, fact-checking, content finalisation, and quality control. Another example is how a digital human can be a news anchor for an online news programme, which can cut down tremendous production time and cost. With all these new opportunities, news organisations like MCIL must restructure their operations and retrain their employees to embrace the new era of news reporting.

2. While leveraging AI for future development is essential, another critical task is positioning its products, namely Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, and China Press, more clearly. Sin Chew Daily, being the flagship product, should be positioned as the most trustworthy news brand in the Chinese community in Malaysia (think New York Times). In contrast, Nanyang should position itself as the daily business news for the Chinese community (think Wall Street Journal or The Edge), China Press as just a tabloid reporting. MCIL should no longer position itself as a newspaper company. Instead, it should evolve into a news company focusing on omnichannel—starting with newspapers and moving on to digital, video, podcasts, short videos, and other new forms of communication, using digital technology, AI, and data.

3. It is an inevitable trend that more publishers will turn to AI, as globally, more and more publishers have already been experimenting with using AI to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. However, one thing for sure is that with technology, the audience still needs quality content that is produced, curated, and edited with heart, passion, empathy, and feeling. AI is just a means, not a purpose, for us to get where we want to be.