Synthetic Media Media

This project traces how media systems are using, interpreting, and anticipating Generative AI to create public life. We’re studying how the news industry frames Generative AI, when and why journalists are using it in their work, which policies and guidelines organizations are creating to regulate its use, and how people and infrastructures have the power to make Generative AI a public problem. Through dataset tracings, studies of metajournalistic discourse, policy analysis, critiques of news language, investigations of critical incidents in Generative AI journalism, and interviews with journalists, legal counsels, and product officers, we're building an image of how journalism — as a field, a profession, and sociotechnical practice — is shaping, anticipating, and responding to synthetic media, creating new ways of understanding press freedom, the power of journalistic language, and sociotechnical constructions of public interest.


Making Sense of the Synthetic Press: How the Journalistic Field Defines, Anticipates, and Manages the Risks of Generative AI

Mike Ananny and Jake Karr
If the ways that journalists work and the stories that they tell always depend upon an era’s technologies, then what kind of news emerges from a press that relies on Generative AI? How is this press actually a “synthetic press” that uses machine learning to create its words, images, and videos—and to shape its workflows, economics, ethics, intellectual property, and sense of public purpose? Envisioned as the first in a series of investigations, this project teases out early dynamics of a field in transition. By analyzing discourses, policies, and practices defining this journalistic moment, we see a “synthetic press” emerging that is likely to continue shifting for years to come.

Press freedom means controlling the language of AI

Mike Ananny and Jake Karr
Generative AI poses the biggest threat to press freedom in decades, and journalists should act quickly to organize themselves and radically reshape its power to produce news. Long buffeted by economic and technological challenges beyond its control, today’s press depends on distributed, technological infrastructures owned and operated by a select few powerful corporations. With Generative AI, news organizations may soon outsource to tech companies not only the power and responsibility to disseminate and curate news, but to create it in the first place.