Forbes journalists to use AI to write rough drafts

Forbes' new AI tool to accompany its semi-automatic CMS "Bertie" which recommends article ideas as part of the publisher's move toward an AI-enabled newsroom


Forbes is testing an AI tool that writes rough versions of articles, meaning that contributors simply need to polish up the stories rather than producing an article from scratch, according to a Digiday report.

The move is part of the publisher's plan to embrace AI technology in an aim to make its newsroom more automated and efficient. Over the summer Forbes began using a new semi-automated CMS, "Bertie", which recommends article topics based on the writer's previous output in addition to story headlines and images.

The publisher, which enjoyed its most profitable year in a decade in 2018, publishes around 300 pieces of content every day. By utilizing AI within its day-to-day operations, it hopes to make the process easier for its contributors.

Forbes' newly-appointed chief digital officer Salah Zalatimo commented that it is doing "anything we can do to make it easier and smarter to publish. That's the loyalty we bring [our contributors]".

The new tools are not designed to replace journalists by producing something that a contributor or report would publish as it is but are designed to help stimulate creative growth, Zalatimo explained.

"That's partly a function of AI's limitations, and partly because reporters and contributors would rather make the pieces their own," commented Digiday.

Forbes are far from being the first publisher to start using AI to improve its operations. The Washington Post began to use its Heliograf tool two years ago to generate short stories using structured data while Reuter's Lynx Insights tool was introduced in March 2018 to help its contributors create articles – to name just two.

Bertie is currently available to Forbes' editorial staff and senior contributors in the North America region, but will be rolled out to all contributors in North America and Europe in early 2019. The AI story-writing tool does not yet have a roll-out date.

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