OpenAI is making a significant investment in local journalism through its new partnership with the American Journalism Project (AJP). The company announced today that it is committing $5 million in funding and up to $5 million in API credits to AJP to support the nonprofit's efforts to rebuild local news across the United States.
OpenAI's investment in AJP comes on the heels of its recent partnership with the Associated Press (AP) to license part of its text archive and examine potential use cases for generative AI in news products and services. It signals that OpenAI may have a more strategic interest in engaging with the news industry as it develops its AI technology.
For AJP, the collaboration offers resources to equip its portfolio of 41 local nonprofit newsrooms to experiment with generative AI applications. The partnership plans to create an "AI studio" and make pilot investments to assess AI applications in the local news sector and to help local news organizations explore the capabilities of AI. Furthermore, OpenAI's API credits offer the opportunity for these organizations to build and use tools using OpenAI's technology.
OpenAI likely recognizes the value of partnering with local journalism, where high costs and shrinking ad revenue have decimated newsrooms. If generative AI tools can fill gaps in coverage or increase productivity, it may provide a compelling use case to showcase its technology's societal benefits.
The move also builds goodwill with journalists and policymakers increasingly wary of generative AI's risks. By supporting local news and emphasizing ethics, OpenAI aims to get ahead of debates on regulating AI. As new legislative proposals emerge, the company can point to partnerships like these as models for collaboration.
At the same time, OpenAI is clearly keen on carving out a leading role in shaping the media industry’s adoption of AI technology. While they have noble intentions and have stated an ethical focus, its close collaboration with news outlets still warrants scrutiny. As a major AI research lab, OpenAI is well-positioned to guide the media industry into a new era, but questions remain about how its technology could also disrupt and potentially exploit journalism.