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Microsoft reportedly replacing dozens of journalists with AI on MSN

MSN News beta Android
MSN News beta Android (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft will reportedly replace roughly 50 journalists with AI.
  • Those losing their jobs currently curate stories, write headlines, and select pictures for MSN.
  • Those affected will reportedly lose their jobs at the end of June.

Dozens of contract journalists will reportedly lose their jobs with MSN by the end of the month. The Seattle Times reports that Microsoft will not renew the contract of roughly 50 news production contractors working at MSN. Microsoft will replace the workload of these employees with artificial intelligence, according to people close with the situation that spoke with The Seattle Times.

The employees are currently contracted through staffing agencies Aquent, IFG, and MAQ Consulting. They were notified last Wednesday that their contracts would not go beyond June 30.

"Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis," said a Microsoft spokesman in a statement. "This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic."

Microsoft will retain full-time news producers that are employed by Microsoft. They fill a similar role to the contractors losing their jobs.

Speaking anonymously to The Seattle Times, some of the employees specified that AI will be utilized to replace their work. The tasks include using algorithms to identify trending news stories and optimizing content by rewriting headlines and adding photographs and slideshows. One of the contractors losing their job stated, "It's been semi-automated for a few months but now it's full speed ahead," adding, "It's demoralizing to think machines can replace us but there you go."

In addition to the work mentioned above, the contractors also planned content and worked with partner news sites.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

21 Comments
  • We can expect most simple, formulaic news content creation to be automated. Sports journalism has been doing this for a while now. Human journalists are going to focus more on things like analysis and comparison and reporting (actually gathering the information) that can't be automated, like deep-dive investigative journalism.
  • > We can expect most simple, formulaic news content creation to be automated. One would hope you are right -- it would have been amusing to read BBC timeline * 20:14 "the person A stiffened and fell to the ground"
    * 20:19 "office pulled the person A out of the passenger seat" if the matter, being reported, was not so grave.
  • Machines can and will replace us. This is the best case scenario. People have been hammering on this rhetoric since the industrial revolution. It's a bit old.
    The question that needs to be raised is what can a person do that a machine cannot do faster and more accurately. And what is going to become of jobs in the future. Because you can't stop the future. You can put a person to hold a sign, but that's a job a pole on the ground can do. Human intelligence is a valuable resource, let's put it to use where it's best.
  • Will it stop the MSN news app giving me those "OPINION" stories that are poorly written and extremely biased?
  • Just because you disagree with an opinion doesn't make it poorly written or biased innately.
  • sounded like a fair question to me Jez. No need to jump on this comment. :(
  • And just because you agree with the opinion doesn't make it well written or balanced... what was your point again? As an aside: the staff writers on this site, lately, developed the tendency to harass commenters, whose comments they do not like... just sayin'
  • Not just lately.
  • He didn't say that. Why so defensive, Jez?
  • Isn't that the purpose of an OPINION piece? To be of someone's belief in something? You do also realize that these pieces are from other sources and it isn't MSN journalists writing these correct?
  • Except you can't really select whose opinion you want to read. You read what they want you to read, and it's predominantly views that I oppose. That is exactly the definition of bias.
  • I see opinion pieces on both sides. You can also now filter them out, or you know, don't read them.
  • It's been going both ways. Jez was roasted for the piracy article.
  • > It's been going both ways. While I do not condone abusive behavior by the comment writers (and, yes, guilty as charged) I tend to hold staff writers to higher standards... rightly or wrongly.
  • With a leftist bent, no doubt.
  • Computers are only as biased as the individuals who program the algorithms. With that being said, Everyone is biased...
  • Yes, because I see no Fox news articles in my feed. GTF over it already.
  • What do you mean get over it? Would you get over it if was in the opposite direction? If you were fed everyday with Fox news exclusively?
  • I do get over it, every day. I also get over the fact that one network seems to control half the country no matter what lie they spew and get disproven on with no repercussions. Sure its annoying sometimes, but whining over the fact that the media is biased does nothing but lower the overall faith of the actual journalists (who are quite literally risking their lives currently) doing their jobs to bring the truth to the public. If we don't have the media, we have don't have the truth of what's going on, and we can easily have fascism with government propaganda controlling our information.
  • I am also get over the fact CNN controls half the countries opinions even though they are wrong over and over again and their lies get spewed all over. Like, can't they news at all? #SameTeam!
  • should replace the ones on the BBc with robots as well, they may do a better job.