Recent advances in large language models (LLMs) have ignited a revolution in journalism, pushing AI into the heart of the newsroom. No longer relegated to an experimental technology or passing fad, many news industry leaders now recognise AI as a powerful force capable of reshaping the competitive and fragmented news sector.

Today, news organisations across the globe are integrating AI into their operations, forging strategic partnerships, and investing in technologies promising transformational gains in accuracy and efficiency. We now stand at a pivotal moment in journalistic history with far-reaching implications that stand to fundamentally redefine how news is produced, consumed, and understood.

AI’s growing role in journalism

Discovery and creation

While AI likely won’t fully replace the vital legwork and information gathering that journalists do, it’s making them faster and better by handling menial tasks like document summarisation and sifting through data from trusted public sources and social media. Tools like Google Trends, Dataminr, Meta’s CrowdTangle, and Altair’s Rapidminer are increasingly used by journalists to identify trends and glean insights from web content and documents.[1] This shift towards AI-assisted journalism also extends to the editing and writing process. Grammarly, HyperWrite, and Hemingway Editor have become widely relied on to speed up the editorial process and ensure grammatical accuracy.

However, the use of AI in journalism isn’t without its challenges. Not long after securing high-profile partnerships with leading news agencies like The Associated Press and Axel Springer – partnerships that provided the vast datasets crucial for developing ChatGPT – OpenAI is currently locked in legal battles with the New York Times for allegedly using copyrighted content to train its models.[2] A group of nonfiction authors have also joined a lawsuit that accuses OpenAI of unauthorised use.

Given the market’s dominance by GenAI giants and well-funded big data companies, as well as the broad spectrum of AI use cases beyond journalism, further consolidation appears improbable in this space. A prime example of the broad application of AI is Dataminr, a leading AI and big data company offering solutions for news organisations and risk detection tools for corporations and the public sector.


Confronted with declining user numbers and revenues amidst escalating competition from tech powerhouses such as Apple and Google, news aggregation platforms including Flipboard, SmartNews, Feedly, Artifact, and Lokal are increasingly embracing AI to enhance their efficiency and precision in content delivery. A recent London School of Economics survey found that 80% of companies have already integrated AI into their distribution efforts[3].

SmartNews, for example, faced significant challenges last year, struggling to maintain and expand its user base. The company has since leveraged AI to analyse user behaviours, preferences, and interactions, enabling it to rapidly sift through vast amounts of content from various sources to identify and deliver the most relevant and interesting stories to users. In addition, SmartNews’ AI can also detect trending topics and breaking news, allowing for the rapid distribution of breaking news stories to its audience.

Looking ahead, we see M&As in this space likely to increase as investors in companies like SmartNews look to the success of previous M&As, such as the recent acquisition of News360 by PressReader, as a path to liquidation. Major players like Google or Apple may consider acquiring a sizable business like SmartNews to enhance their offerings, while social media giants such as Meta might see value in bolstering their news distribution capabilities. Traditional media conglomerates such as News Corp or the Financial Times could also pursue such an acquisition to reach a younger demographic.

Summarisation and alternative delivery

Information overload is becoming a real problem for consumers, demanding new solutions for easier, more engaging content consumption. This need is fuelling M&A activity as companies seek to enhance and simplify information delivery. Acquisitions like Abrdn’s purchase of Finimize and GO1’s acquisition of Blinkist exemplify this trend. Both companies specialise in transforming complex topics into user-friendly formats like summaries, infographics, and audio snippets, helping users navigate the information deluge.

Many of the world’s largest news outlets have recognised the need to combat information overload and improve accessibility and engagement. The New York Times purchase of Audm and partnerships like The Washington Post with AWS, The Wall Street Journal with Linguatech, and Medium with Speechify illustrate how leading organisations are integrating narration and text-to-speech features.

Curio is a widely recognised leader in AI-powered audio narration for news articles with an advanced GenAI trained on partner news repositories, including high-profile outlets like FT, WSJ, and The Guardian. This positioning makes the company a highly appealing prospect for major news outlets and GenAI companies looking to enter the market. By acquiring Curio, these organisations can gain immediate access to valuable partnerships and cutting-edge narration technology, bypassing the extensive R&D typically necessary to build such capabilities from the ground up.

Misinformation & media integrity

As the US gears up for its upcoming elections, the threat of misinformation is poised to take centre stage, heightening the urgency for social media and digital platforms to fortify their safeguards. Anthropic, renowned for its advanced AI assistant, Claude, is leading the charge to stamp out the spread of false information.

Recognising Claude’s limitations in supplying accurate and timely political and electoral content, the company is developing an innovative solution named Prompt Shield to ensure the integrity of election-related information. The technology employs AI models and predefined rules to identify when users engage in political discussions. When a US-based user enquires about voting details through Claude, Prompt Shield activates, displaying a notification that suggests redirecting the user to TurboVote. This service, provided by the impartial entity Democracy Works, offers reliable and current voting information.

Innovative start-ups like Logically and Blackbird.AI are also making significant strides in this space, backed by high-profile investors such as XTX Ventures, Amazon, Vitruvian Partners, and Generation Ventures. UK-based Logically uses a mix of AI and expert human analysts to identify possible misinformation on social media and patterns of communication. Blackbird.AI’s intelligence platform provides early detection and analysis of “narrative attacks” – deceptive stories or claims that can skew public perception and cause damage, equipping organisations with the tools to identify and neutralise these threats.

The growing necessity for corporations and governments to address the escalating issue of misinformation and disinformation has spurred significant investments and strategic acquisitions in recent years. A notable example is Primer’s acquisition of Yonder, a move that enhanced Primer’s ability to provide its clients with advanced insights into potential reputational threats.[4] By merging Yonder’s sophisticated disinformation analysis and contextual intelligence capabilities with Primer’s natural language processing and machine learning technologies, the company is uniquely equipped to offer a more comprehensive suite of monitoring and counteraction tools against misinformation efforts.

The acquisition of Spectrum Labs by ActiveFence last year stands out as another notable deal.[5] By combining Spectrum Labs’ expertise in text-based content moderation with ActiveFence’s advanced detection AI, the company can deliver enhanced accuracy and efficiency in identifying and mitigating misinformation.

An industry in transformation

The news and media industry has long been a hotbed of M&A and investment activity, with major players like News Corp, The New York Times, Disney, Warner Bros., and Gannett each participating in an average of 90 deals annually. These corporations will likely move quickly to use AI across the entire media value chain, from content creation to distribution and analytics, to ensure further efficiency gains and free up journalists to be more strategic and creative. These media giants are now joined by a wave of well-capitalised newcomers, including OpenAI, AlphaSense, Inflection AI, and Databricks, all vying for a share of the lucrative $40 billion digital news market. [6]

In their acquisition strategies, established and well-funded players will prioritise factors beyond the immediate tech prowess of their targets’ LLMs. They will also focus on existing partnerships, market position, integration ease, user experience, and overall performance relative to competitors – factors that lead to a healthy and growing repeat customer base. Given the sector’s nascent stage and the significant R&D expenditures required, profitability may take a backseat in their considerations. For players such as Artifact, Lokal, and Curio to compete effectively, they must not only keep pace with technological advancements but also forge robust partnerships with larger news and media organisations. By aligning with industry leaders, these players can gain traction and avoid being overshadowed by their better-funded yet broader competitors. Moreover, establishing themselves as attractive M&A targets for larger institutions and well-funded newcomers can provide a pathway to sustainable growth with the backing of an established and well-funded organisation. This ensures their survival and success in this dynamic and innovative industry.

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