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Daily Mirror publisher Reach reveals AI is already writing articles

Daily Mirror publisher Reach published its first AI-written articles last week, CEO Jim Mullen revealed today (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)
Daily Mirror publisher Reach published its first AI-written articles last week, CEO Jim Mullen revealed today (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

Daily Mirror publisher Reach published its first AI-written articles last week, CEO Jim Mullen revealed today.

During Reach’s 2022 earnings call, Mullen said the publisher was already using artificial intelligence to write articles, after the business announced it was considering the possibility last year. The first AI-written articles have appeared on local news site In Your Area last week.

“There are three AI-written articles about Newport for In Your Area,” Mullen said. “One of them was ‘Seven Things to do in Newport’: that was written by a bot.”

Mullen said, though, that Reach’s current AI strategy still also involved human journalists.

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“It was based off of content from our journalists, and the decision to run it was made by the editor: that is responsible use of AI,”  he said.

“AI allows us to produce content that our readers are interested in, and allows us to then focus journalistic resources on things like breaking news.”

Other news outlets have already used AI to write articles. The Associated Press in the US first published AI-written articles in 2014, while a large percentage of Bloomberg’s news content is written by artificial intelligence.

Mullen also revealed that Reach will focus its 2023 investment on the US market, hiring 100 staff there after announcing around 200 layoffs in the UK just two months ago.

Reach, which publishes the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star - as well as a number of regional titles - announced a cost-reduction plan in January following a profit warning.

This plan, focused on “more efficient procurement throughout the print supply chain, the simplification of central support functions and the removal of editorial duplication”, included 200 layoffs. Reach said it hoped the plan would lead to savings of 5-6% of operating costs, up to £30 million.

However, the business also hopes to invest in the US and in targeting millennials, having developed a “playbook” for reaching new audiences.

By the end of the year, Reach said it expects to have around 100 journalists on the ground in New York. However, it did not provide any guidance for the amount of revenue it expected from the US.

Reach said its focus in 2023 would be on building an American audience, noting that with 9% of online views coming from the US it lagged behind some of its UK competitors in this space. It said it also aims to build a younger audience with the launch of “social-first” brand Curiously.

Operating profit was down by 27.4% in 2022, as print revenue dropped, digital revenue was flat and costs rose rapidly - due mostly to a sharp  rise in the cost of newsprint.

Total revenue came to £601.4 million, down by 2.3%. Print revenue dipped to £448.6 million, mostly due to a 15% drop in advertising revenue, while digital revenue ticked slightly up to £149.8 million.

Costs, though, were up by 5.3%, thanks mostly to a 45.3% rise in newsprint costs.

As a result, Reach reported an operating profit of £106.1 million, down sharply year-on-year.

Reach shares are down by 8.7% so far today 82.8p.