AI in journalism

Recently I wrote an article for on AI image generation tools. I wrote it at the end of last year, shortly before text tools like ChatGPT kept on making headlines. I can still very much recommend reading the article and I am sure it is worth the subscription 😉. While I am confident that AI image generation will revolutionise image production, at first, I was reluctant about the capabilities of AI in journalism and text generation in general.

After seeing many samples on sources like LinkedIn recently I am more impressed with the quality. ChatGPT is good, no doubt. It can write a convincing essay on why water-based ink is the best solution and another one on why UV-ink is the best. It surely could find arguments for letterpress as well. Where AI is not good at is finding the balance between pros and cons and filtering marketing arguments for an unbiased view.

I can see a big impact of AI texts in general marketing collaterals. I imagine AI doing a good job at summarising, providing ideas and helping with intro sections as well. It is interesting to see that selecting and recommending articles already arrived at newsrooms and publishers according to recent research on journalism. That is even ok – if newsrooms are not resorting to clickbaiting and headline manipulation (I wrote about this here)

AI used for selecting / recommending posts

It is a safe bet that there will be a quick rise in AI text generation in all supporting functions like summarising, selecting, researching and providing snippets. It will be used in for full articles as well, but here the true capabilities are limited and original copy writing and editing will be necessary for good results. I still believe that image generation will have a bigger impact.

  • Creating an image requires equipment, tools, and usually a lot of practice. With text, the barrier is much lower. Hence offloading AI to image creation is a lot more worthwhile.
  • You do not have to check images on factual correctness (like an AI text). Of course, you might want to tweak or edit an image but you do not have to (or you simply create more).
  • When creating communication in most cases the text and the main aims are at the centre of focus. Images often function as an embellishment.
  • As a consequence most content creators are a lot more familiar with creating text than images. With image AI they can omit relying on external resources.

AI in journalism will come undoubtedly and flood the markets with articles that are not too helpful. I hope that readers will recognise that only humans, and especially independent journalists and analysts, can provide the balanced insight that make an article worth reading.

Hunkeler innovationdays bringing more inkjet

Finally, the Hunkeler innovationdays are back, not only bringing more inkjet devices, but also a lot of technology around the presses – of course with finishing being very prominent. If you have not been to the Hunkeler innovationdays: it is the event to get the best possible overview on continuous feed production presses. Not only will all important vendors for digital commercial, publishing and document printing presses be there, the event also allows seeing the latest presses printing side-by-side.

Inkjet press placements picking up

2022 started fairly well in terms of inkjet press activities. It was supposed to be a decent year after the pandemic weighed down on businesses in 2020 and 2021. However, sales/placement announcements dropped off in Q2 and Q3. Finally, Q4 2022 sees inkjet press placements picking up finally. It ties in with printing companies having a more positive outlook again, e.g. in Germany.

For years I keep on collecting sales and placement announcements for production inkjet devices and use those to analyse trends and data. Placements and sales numbers for 2022 show a good start into the year with a decisive drop in activity in Q2 and Q3. However, Q4 showed a significant rise in numbers, easily surpassing even Q1 2022. Keep in mind that Q4 has not even ended, so there might be a few more units to add.

The lower activity in the mid of 2022 could be caused by a lack of components and supply chain issues mounting in 2022. This has been confirmed by industry analysts and vendor information. It seems that companies are getting a better handle on it now.

Continuous feed (CF) inkjet remains the main driver in the market and accounted for the largest number of installations again. B1 and B2 cut-sheet presses had a good year, with a bit more even distribution across the year. B3 inkjet presses had a very strong second half of the year, although these devices, not being as expensive as the two other categories, are more likely to fall through the grid.

2022 quarterly overview of production inkjet sales and placements

Small publishers and traditional media benefitting in 2022

2022 has not been the year many hoped for in the beginning. War in the Ukraine, supply chain issues, and energy price rises did throw a spanner into many plans. The ad market is surely no exception and the high growth expected had to be downgraded in the year-end reviews coming out now. There were some notable exceptions however as small publishers and traditional media were benefitting in the 2022 ad market climate.

Magna, the central planning unit of global advertising behemoth IPG Mediabrands published its year-end outlook a few days ago. It had some surprising findings. According to Magna’s analysis, the top 15 media suppliers’ share of the global ad marketplace actually contracted two percentage points in 2022 to 58% (and this is not just down to Elon Musk wrecking Twitter). Both, the share for the 3 largest advertising media channels as well as the share of the following 12 largest providers declined, although it does not show all in the chart due to rounding. In any case, it is remarkable as it is the first time that the concentration in the ad market paused!

Pulling out of the depression

The German Federation of the Printing Industry (BVDM) is publishing a monthly overview of the current state and business outlook of the printing industry. November 2022 survey data has just been published and it shows that the printing industry seems to be finally pulling out of the depression that started in early 2022.

The survey data covers the current situation, a short term and a long term outlook. Especially the long term outlook for the next six months (Geschäftserwartungen – grey line) showed a strong recovery. Also, the short term outlook (Geschäftsklima – red line) had a 6% upswing, indicating that conditions already start to improve. On the current business situation (Geschäftslage – blue line) remains almost unchanged. All indicators remain in the negative, however.

chart of German print industry outlook nov 2022
Business Situation and Outlook print Industry Germany