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The Future of Journalism: The Intersection of AI and Reportage

As we stand at the precipice of a technological revolution – a fusion of artificial intelligence and journalism – the future of news presentation and consumption is certainly poised to shift. Gannett, the conglomerate boasting a vast collection of U.S. newspapers under its wing, has launched a pioneering program that will augment journalist stories with AI-generated bullet points.

This new initiative, which is labelled as "Key Points," provides AI-generated summaries under story headlines. To ensure transparency in this digital alchemy of man and machine, each summary will carry a disclaimer acknowledging that it was generated by artificial intelligence then evaluated by a journalist. Early glimpses of this innovative integration are visible on a select few online articles from USA Today, a publication that also falls under Gannett's expansive portfolio.

These summaries, arriving as a bold step into the journalistic future, aim to transform both the reporting process and the audience experience. With their inclusion, Gannett hopes to provide quick, consumable content for readers on the go, yet, still provide context and insights for those delving deeper into the full text.

Gannett has ventured into the AI terrain in previous attempts for seamless content production. However, these efforts haven't been without blips – some resulted in glaring errors, which provided cringe-worthy content and guffaw-inducing headlines.

The announcement of Gannett's AI initiative unfolds as local union members voice concerns over contract language around the application of AI. Given that AI can take on certain tasks traditionally held by journalists, concern for job security and ethical implications make the union responses palpable.

This collision of journalism and AI isn't solely a Gannett phenomenon. Top tech players like Google and TikTok have been dabbling in similar areas, with AI summarization and briefs supplementing human-led content on search platforms. Such innovations signal a seismic shift in content production, consumption, and optimization.

Nevertheless, these new efficiencies may hold some unintended risks. While speed and brevity are positive attributes in our fast-paced world, over-reliance on AI-generated information might hurt publishers and authors. Reader engagement with full articles can decrease, causing a potential drop in traffic if users choose not to read beyond the AI-generated summaries. However, as of now, Gannett remains taciturn on this potential issue – the spokespeople have not responded to inquiries about this concern.

As we witness the AI and Journalism intersection, innovative tools like Gannett's "Key Points" knock on the door of possibility. However, it's incumbent on all – journalists, technologists, researchers, and readers – to strike a balance, ensuring an ethical, informed, and engaging journalistic landscape that doesn't forsake human touch amidst technological advances.