London, June 22: Reports have emerged stating that German media giant Axel Springer plans to lay off 20 percent of its newsroom staff and introduce artificial intelligence (AI) technology to replace certain roles. The company’s CEO, Mathias Dopfner, a close associate of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has reportedly initiated a transition to a “digital-only” approach, as reported by CNN.
According to an internal memo from Axel Springer, traditional positions such as editors, photo editors, proofreaders, and other print production staff will no longer exist in their current form. The repercussions of these layoffs will particularly impact Bild, one of the most widely circulated newspapers in Europe.
Axel Springer, which owns various multimedia news brands including German publications Bild and Welt, as well as US news sites Politico and Insider, informed its employees that it would unfortunately need to part ways with colleagues whose tasks can be performed by AI and automated processes in the digital realm, as stated in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ).
The reduction in workforce is expected to affect nearly 200 out of 1,000 employees at Bild. However, a spokesperson from Bild clarified to CNN that the job cuts were not directly linked to the implementation of AI. Instead, AI would be considered a time-saving and valuable tool for editors and reporters.
In a recent internal communication to employees, CEO Mathias Dopfner emphasized that artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance independent journalism beyond its previous capabilities or potentially even replace it altogether. He stressed the importance of recognizing this change and adapting to it in order for a publishing house to remain viable in the future. Dopfner further conveyed that “only those who create the best original content will survive” in the evolving landscape of AI-powered journalism.
Furthermore, Dopfner mentioned in the staff memo that AI will soon possess the capability to completely take over the layout design of printed newspapers.