Image generated via ChatGPT with the prompt: An illustration showing a diverse group of people, including journalists, exploring AI tools.

Exploring AI tools in journalism: Insights from ONA’s AI Innovator Collaborative

By on June 26, 2024

The rapid evolution of AI tools is offering journalism new solutions for content creation, research and audience engagement. At a recent ONA AI Innovator Collaborative meeting, a group of 35 journalists shared their experiences with various AI tools, revealing insights into their usage, preferences and the challenges they face.

Current use of AI tools

Before we started the conversation, we conducted a poll on the group’s usage of commercial AI tools. Some of the questions include:

Frequency of AI tools usage in journalism tasks:

  • Never: 3%
  • Rarely: 14%
  • Sometimes: 31%
  • Often: 37%
  • Always: 14%
Number of AI tools subscriptions:

  • None: 48%
  • One: 19%
  • Two: 19%
  • Three or more: 13%
Average monthly spending on AI tools:

  • $0: 28%
  • $1 to $50: 31%
  • $51 to $100: 25%
  • $101 to $150: 3%
  • >$150: 13%
Willingness to pay per month for AI tools:

  • $0 to $50: 50%
  • $51 to $100: 11%
  • $101 to $150: 14%
  • >$150: 25%

The results revealed diverse patterns in the adoption and utilization of AI tools.

  • 37% of participants often integrate AI tools into their daily tasks, while 31% use them occasionally, demonstrating a significant engagement with AI technologies. However, a smaller segment, comprising 17%, reported rare or no usage, indicating room for broader adoption.
  • The subscription to ChatGPT Pro is relatively high, with 63% of journalists subscribing.
  • Cost of tools appears to be a constraint, as nearly half of the participants do not pay for additional AI tools besides ChatGPT, and 28% spend nothing on these technologies monthly.
  • Nevertheless, there is a willingness to invest, with half of the respondents ready to pay up to $50 per month for AI tools.

These insights underscore the growing integration of AI in journalism while highlighting the need for cost-effective solutions and broader educational initiatives to enhance AI fluency across the industry.

What AI tools we are using

Collaborative members shared their experiences with popular AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude and Google’s Gemini. Although Claude is not widely used among this group, a Claude user did highlight its advantages, noting that Claude provides more careful and thoughtful responses compared to ChatGPT, which prioritizes speed and can sometimes produce errors. Claude is also seen as better at adhering to prompts and has a well-organized prompt library. In contrast, ChatGPT excels in reasoning but can be overly dramatic in its language. Other participants agreed that Claude offers a more fluid and writerly style, while ChatGPT is preferred for its reasoning capabilities.

Participants also discussed a variety of other AI tools they are experimenting with:

(Note: This list is not an endorsement by ONA of the tools’ effectiveness and functionality.)

Challenges and considerations on AI tool adoption

While the group was enthusiastic about the array of AI tools available in the marketplace, they also discussed several challenges and considerations related to their use:

  • Crowded marketplace: The sheer volume of available tools is making it difficult to find the right one for specific tasks.
  • Cost is another significant barrier, as many useful AI tools require a paid subscription, which can be challenging for smaller organizations with limited budgets.
  • Ethics and bias: Ensuring accuracy and avoiding bias in AI-generated content is crucial to maintaining journalistic integrity. Ethical considerations also come into play, particularly regarding privacy concerns around tools like Several users highlighted that has clearly outlined their ethical practices on their website, which can make it easier for journalists to conduct due diligence when considering the use of this AI tool.
  • Transparency is also essential, and newsrooms must be open about their use of AI tools to build trust with their audiences.

In conclusion, the group agrees that the journalism industry must keep pace by identifying effective use cases of commercial AI tools, developing best practices for integration and encouraging collaboration between journalists, researchers and AI developers.

Join the AI Innovator Collaborative

The ONA AI Innovator Collaborative will continue to explore more tools and share best practices to support the journalism community. The group, which is for ONA members experimenting with AI, meets monthly via Zoom. Learn more and join.


Paul Cheung

Paul Cheung is a mission-focused leader dedicated to driving innovation and progress in the media industry. With over 20 years of experience, he has spearheaded transformative initiatives focused on technology adoption, combating misinformation, ensuring business sustainability, and fostering organizational culture change. Paul serves as ONA’s AI Strategy Consultant and Strategic Advisor for Hacks/Hackers, where he leads the development and execution of strategies to promote the adoption of emerging technologies, such as AI, within the media industry. Previously, Cheung held key leadership roles at organizations including the Center for Public Integrity, Knight Foundation, NBC News Digital, The Associated Press, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal.