Thursday 6th June: Welcome to CascAIs

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It’s less than a week until the Publisher Podcast & Newsletter Summit — and here are the amazing speakers on the newsletter stream! If you’re a publisher with newsletters, this is the conference for you.

Good morning from sunny Portugal. Yes, it’s that time of year and I’m back at The FIPP World Media Congress. This is the third year in a row I’ve come to the beautiful seaside town of Cascais for this magazine media meetup and I reckon the local tourist board has missed a trick. They should have rebranded the municipal signage to read ‘Welcome to CascAIs’.

From the opening keynote - Qantm AI’s CEO Dr Set Dorbin’s ‘AI iQ for a human focussed future’ - the stage was set for an AI extravaganza. There are plenty of sessions on the more traditional aspects of magazine publishing, from the enduring appeal of luxury brands to readers, relationships and revenue, but AI is absolutely the star of the show.

AI to me is a tool to be used, something to make publishing better, more profitable, more sustainable and I was delighted to hear Dr Jon Roberts, CIO at Dotdash Meredith, talk as much about DDM’s underlying publishing strategy as he did about its deal with OpenAI. More presentations that take publishing rather as their starting point, please. Less fear mongering and magical thinking.

If you want to know more about the deal DDM did with OpenAI, and the bargains struck between other publishers and AI developers, this is a great pros and cons rundown by Digiday. This is a contentious area with some applauding the good of publishers finally negotiating payment for training LLMs and others calling it capitulation. Read the pros and cons and make your own mind up, quickly, before everything changes again.

It’s all change at The Washington Post, no great surprise given the paper’s shrinking audience and a $77 million loss. Besides the personnel changes, the paper is rumoured to be considering a first foray into pay-as-you-go content, allowing users to access single articles or content from specific writers. Maybe WaPo will finally be the publisher that makes micropayments work.

Oh Facebook, get your shit together. Press Gazette is reporting that independent publishers in the UK are ‘frustrated and confused’ about why some of their Facebook posts are being flagged as spam and removed. Some of the posts have been restored after a review, but others have not and the publishers are frustrated at how difficult they say it has been to contact someone at Facebook owner Meta about the issue. It’s easy to say, get off the platform, but for some smaller publishers Facebook traffic is crucial.

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