How AI helped a local newsroom in Argentina boost its reach, innovation and sustainability

Alvaro Liuzzi
7 min readJun 7, 2024

Article originally published on IJNET

Two decades after the internet revolutionized how we access and distribute information, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to boost creativity and automation in the newsroom on an unprecedented scale.

As a journalist, professor, and digital media consultant working in the media industry for the last 20 years, I experienced firsthand this century’s profound transformations in news consumption. And for the past three years, I’ve dedicated my work to better understanding how AI will impact journalism. I’ve read research, written articles, taught classes, given talks, developed experimental projects, participated in interviews, and trained and consulted for media outlets and journalists from Argentina and greater Latin America.

In 2023, I worked with Todo Jujuy, a local Argentine media outlet in the province of Jujuy, to help them begin integrating AI into their workflows. This consultancy was part of “Impulso Local,” a program that trained 235 media outlets throughout Argentina on various topics, implemented by the Argentine Association of Journalistic Entities (ADEPA), the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Meta.

I worked with Todo Jujuy for eight months, from the start seeking to make clear that implementing AI in the newsroom involved not only the introduction of new technologies but also a cultural shift and a reconfiguration of existing workflows. This was evident to those of us who worked in media as it was being digitized in the early 2000s.

In meetings with the Todo Jujuy team, we identified strategic areas that would benefit from AI, selected the appropriate tools and programs for their editorial needs, and trained the staff on new processes.

In this article I document the process developed alongside Todo Jujuy, with the goal that this can be shared as a resource with lessons learned for other local media looking to utilize AI in the newsroom.

Integration first steps

When we began the integration process I asked Todo Jujuy team members to share their experiences and expectations around AI, and write down goals they hoped to achieve. Here are some examples of what they shared:

“The production of articles related to services, such as weather, traffic, sports results, or currency exchange rates, is one of the tasks that our media could automate, thus allowing our team of journalists to focus on stories of relevance to our audience and community.”

“In this way, through large-scale production and relevant editorial content, we aim to attract new users, strengthen the bond with current ones, and thus improve our advertising sales revenue.”

I then trained the team on AI concepts, and its potential uses and challenges. Together, we also assessed the viability of specific AI technologies, taking into account, for instance, cost, scalability, and how their impact could be maximized in the newsroom.

Todo Jujuy’s reporters, editors, developers, and content manager all attended and involved themselves in the meetings, demonstrating a cross-organizational commitment that laid the foundation for the newsroom to effectively integrate AI.

We initially identified six editorial and product areas with potential for development with AI. Among them were the automation of sports coverage and publishing in the content management system, a chatbot reading assistant, and audio versions of articles to improve accessibility.

Taking into account that Todo Jujuy runs a radio station and TV channel, as well, I also proposed automatically repackaging radio segments as newsletters, podcasts and articles for the website.

Throughout, we shared and discussed industry reports regarding AI in the newsroom, learning from how other media outlets were using new technologies. These exchanges better enabled the Todo Jujuy team to make more informed decisions about their own work.

One of the primary goals we pursued was to move away from reporting news already covered by other outlets, and to focus instead on covering local news and stories that could offer greater impact and value for Todo Jujuy’s audience.

Experimentation and rollout

After identifying the tools and programs to adopt, determining the available financial resources to do so, and selecting the journalists who would be involved, Todo Jujuy began experimenting with automating sports coverage, and formally incorporating AI into other newsroom workflows.

Later, I worked with the editorial team to develop guidelines for using AI in the newsroom. We reviewed reports and statistics on the topic to identify usage patterns that could inform the policies we were developing. The resulting guidelines aimed both to provide an ethical and practical integration framework for journalists, and also to inform how to transparently use the technology for audiences.

The Todo Jujuy team then piloted the automated products, testing their effectiveness and identifying adjustments to be made before general implementation.

The collaboration across departments at Todo Jujuy in creating the guidelines ensured that the process was aligned with the outlet’s needs, enhancing the likelihood that any adoption of new technology would contribute productively and sustainably to innovation in the newsroom.

Image created with ChatGPT

It has been six months since I concluded my work with Todo Jujuy. Informed by time and data, I’ve gained a perspective on the possibilities that AI offers media outlets if they integrate it according to their specific needs and characteristics.

The words of Julieta Pose, the content manager at Todo Jujuy, shine a light on what we achieved:

“The implementation of AI in our newsroom allowed us to grow both qualitatively and quantitatively, which is fundamental for a local organization with a small newsroom like ours. On one hand, it enabled us to automate processes and daily, cumbersome tasks of little journalistic value, especially those related to services such as weather, traffic or sports results, so that we were able to optimize content production.

On the other hand, it allowed us to focus our staff of journalists on tasks purely of interest to our audience, thus deepening the journalistic value of our content and the role we have as a media outlet.”

In the first installment of this series, I presented the ideas and strategies behind the process of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) at Todo Jujuy. The data collected and the lessons learned from this process form the basis for what I dive into below, analyzing concrete impacts and results of the integration.

Audience growth

From March 2023 when the integration work began, to March 2024, Todo Jujuy experienced nearly 100% growth in its audience. Page views climbed from 1,297,967 to 2,378,928, while the number of users tripled, increasing from 542,347 to 1,652,414.

This exponential growth reflects a growing interest among a broader audience — a direct result of diversified, enriched content, thanks to the implementation of AI technologies.

Increase in content production

Before integrating AI in its processes, Todo Jujuy published no AI-generated articles. Today, it publishes more than 500 such articles per month.

AI adoption rate

Half of the newsroom has adopted AI tools to assist with editorial processes. Although some team members have expressed fears over this integration, the trend demonstrates the potential of these tools to transform the newsroom’s way of working.

Efficiency in content production

The implementation of AI has improved productivity, enabling Todo Jujuy reporters to publish more articles. Although the amount of time this has saved for staff has not yet been measured, efficiency in content production has significantly increased.

Editorial team satisfaction

Surveys and interviews with the editorial team indicate a high degree of satisfaction regarding the utility, ease of use, and impact of AI on their daily work. Those who have adopted AI tools are motivated and enthusiastic, and have a desire to continue exploring and learning about their applications.

Content diversity

AI has contributed significantly to the diversification of Todo Jujuy’s content, enriching existing articles and generating new topics of interest for its audience. This greater variety of topics, perspectives and styles indicates broader, more diverse coverage.

Development of guidelines

Creating a framework for using AI has been essential for guiding its adoption in the newsroom. The guidelines have helped to reduce anxieties, provide clarity on how to work with AI, and establish the outlet’s stance both internally and externally. Organized meetings and training sessions have been crucial for this process.

Sustainability and Innovation as drivers of change

Following a year of exploring and engaging with AI in 2023, journalists face a dual challenge in 2024.

The first lies in how newsrooms will adapt to the new technologies and their cross-cutting impacts on the media industry. And secondly, they will be tasked with reporting on these developments and their consequences.

AI has spurred discussions around ethics and data privacy. It also impacts the proliferation of mis- and disinformation, especially in a year in which at least 64 countries are holding elections. Central for newsrooms to consider is the fine line between plausibility and truth, the increasingly influential role algorithms play in distributing and mediating content that audiences consume, and job losses due to automation.

Despite these challenges, local media find opportunities in this new landscape. The deep connection they have with their communities allows them to offer unique perspectives and coverage focused on issues that directly affect local audiences.

As newsrooms explore new digital strategies, such as integrating AI-related technologies, they can reconfigure production processes and consolidate their crucial role as guardians of reliable, relevant and community-focused information.

In this context, where change is the only constant, sustainability and the ability to innovate become two fundamental characteristics for their survival.

Cover image created with ChatGPT

--

--

Alvaro Liuzzi

Periodista | Consultor en Medios y Proyectos Digitales | Profesor en la UNLP (entre otras) | Editor del newsletter #Redacciones5G