Microsoft is laying off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN. The layoffs are a part of a bigger push by Microsoft to rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to pick news for MSN, Microsft edge browser, and inside various Microsoft News Apps. Many of the affected workers are part of Microsoft’s News edge division. They are contracted as human editors to help pick stories. A Microsoft spokesperson said this in his statement:
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business regularly.”
This can result in increased investment in some places from time to time and redeployment in others. The outbreak of the COVID-19 has disrupted every major industry on the planet. In order to stay afloat, companies are resorting to drastic measures for cost-cutting. Over the past few months, companies such as Uber, Boeing, Lyft, Marriott International, and son have laid off over 20% of its entire staff. However, these decisions at Microsoft are not a result of the current pandemic. Although, the company has stated that the ongoing layoffs are directly related to the coronavirus outbreak.
How Do These Layoffs Affect Media?
Media businesses across the globe are hit hard due to advertising revenues plummeting across TV, newspapers, online, and more. Business Insider first reported the Microsoft layoffs on Friday (29/5/20) and said that 50 jobs had been affected in the U.S. The Microsoft news job losses are also affecting international teams.
The Guardian reports that over 27 Microsoft employees are being let go in the U.K. The American tech giant has been in the news business for over 25 years. After launching MSN in 1995, the company launched Microsoft News in 2018. However, the company reported that it has 800 editors working for 50 locations around the world.
Microsoft To Replace News Producers With AI
Microsoft has gradually been moving towards AI for its Microsoft News work in recent months. Simultaneously, it is encouraging publishers and journalists to make use of AI. However, the company is laying off at least 15 News production workers and replacing them with AI-based algorithms to perform their editorial duty. These news producers work with Microsoft News, the company’s arm that operates MSN.
The work of the AI includes identifying trending news stories, rewriting headlines, adding photographs, or slideshows. Besides the production work, it will also plan the content, maintain the editorial calendar of partner news websites, and assign content to them.