Navigating the Build vs Buy decision in AI for newsrooms
In today’s media landscape, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools in newsrooms is not just a trend but a necessity. The decision for media outlets now lies in whether to build their own AI tools or buy existing solutions. This choice is crucial for enhancing journalistic efficiency and fostering innovation.
Luckily this decision should not be novel for any tech professional: in a modern company with in-house product development teams, these decisions are made every week: should we buy a CMS or should we build our own? How about the CRM? Or the Android app? I have been on the buyer side for many years and we still try to buy as many services as possible to help us be agile and efficient. As the CEO of both the Danish news media Zetland and Good Tape I now also find myself on the seller side, and this leads to some reflections.
The essence of the build vs. buy decision
The decision to build or buy AI tools hinges on a few critical factors. For very specific needs, building bespoke tools can offer tailored solutions that align with your specific workflows and objectives. However, this approach often demands significant resources and investment – including the dearest resource of all: time. On the flip side, buying off-the-shelf AI tools can be more cost-effective and allows for quicker deployment, though it may come with limitations in terms of customization and data security.
My rule of thumb has always been very simple: if a) the product or service is something that is specific to your company's USPs, and b) you are able to build it within a reasonable time and cost, you should build. In all other cases, you should probably buy.
What many buyers often miss (myself included) is that many software vendors nowadays actually cater for both needs. For instance, if a newsroom chooses to buy, Good Tape offers a journalist-centric interface for immediate use. If building is the preferred route, Good Tape’s API integrates seamlessly into existing Content Management Systems (CMS), handling the technical complexities and enabling customers to focus on adding value on top of the core functionalities.
Selecting the right AI tools
When choosing AI tools for a newsroom, it's important to consider their alignment with journalistic values. In 2024 I believe that the vast majority of news publishers should find tools that aim to augment, not replace, the human element in journalism.
Given our core product is trust, it's important to seek out a vendor that understands this: Solutions developed by or in collaboration with journalism professionals are more likely to address the unique challenges and ethics of the field. Those might be related to data security, source protection, article production flow, copyright issues, or similar.
The primary goal should always be to enhance the efficiency and capabilities of the newsroom without compromising journalistic integrity. For many, AI entails even shorter production times, but for others, like Zetland, AI means more time to do old-school journalistic work, like interviewing, perfecting language, or engaging with our members.
OK, what is it: Build or Buy?
AI holds the potential to transform journalism, offering new ways to process and interpret data, thus enabling journalists to focus on more in-depth reporting and storytelling. However, newsrooms must approach AI adoption cautiously. The key is to leverage AI's benefits while being mindful of potential risks such as increased costs and reputational issues.
The build vs. buy decision for AI tools in newsrooms is a nuanced one, and has to be made considering your specific company's value propositions.
Building allows for fully customized solutions, but requires significant investment. This is typically the best route to choose if you shoot for the stars with a product that is key to your offering. Remember that even if you choose to build, you should consider buying parts of the solution, for instance by using third party APIs.
Buying typically offers a quicker, more cost-effective route with potential limitations in customization. This could be subscription management, database hosting, or interview transcriptions.
The choice largely depends on the specific needs, budget, and data complexity of each newsroom.
By thoughtfully integrating AI, newsrooms can significantly enhance journalistic efficiency and innovation. The key is to find a balance that suits the unique requirements and aspirations of your company. As the world of journalism continues to evolve, embracing AI with a strategic and balanced approach will be vital for staying ahead in the information age.
Get started with Good Tapes transcription tool for journalists (and everyone else)
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If you want to buy Good Tape off the shelve, you might not even have to pay: we offer free access with a monthly limit of three recordings. Or, choose our Professional or Team options for a minimal monthly/yearly fee. Get started with Good Tape audio-to-text transcription today.
If you need to build yourself, for instance to integrate in your CMS, or if you have some other use case that we do not specifically cater to, you should check out our API: It offers the full core experience of Good Tape, but baked into your own frontends. Take the next step with our easy-to-use API documentation.