NBC News evp and executive in charge of NBC News Now Janelle Rodriguez spoke at the International Symposium on Online Journalism on Friday morning in Austin, Texas.
Rodriguez, the keynote speaker for the day, went in-depth about the importance of offering free access to premium journalism, how to reach consumers of all demos in this changing media landscape, and the current hot topic — the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).
“I don’t think we can live in a world where you have two tiers of information,” Rodriguez said. “People who can afford to pay, get access to quality information and journalism, and people who can’t afford to pay end up with junk information, misinformation, and low quality.”
She added that under the direction of NBCU News Group chief Cesar Conde, providing free, high-quality journalism has been one of the news division’s core values, and that while NBC News does have some subscription-based products, but the company’s future will be geared toward free journalism.
Rodriguez also spoke about how NBC News has adapted to the consumers’ changing news consumption habits saying, “There are so many different ways to access news and information beyond the three networks, so it’s critical for us, and we’ve placed a high priority on making sure that we’re distributing that journalism everywhere that our audience is.”
She added, “We have a robust digital operation at NBCNews.com, but we had also launched six years ago, a digital-only program called Stay Tuned. It’s really focused on reaching younger viewers where they are, and that’s on Snapchat. From there, we launched our streaming network NBC News Now about four years ago, and we’ve seen just exponential growth.”
On what the future holds for NBC News and ChatGPT, Rodriguez says the company is taking a “proceed with caution approach.”
As for AI and its impacts on journalism, she didn’t hold back, saying, “I just want to be clear for everyone, especially aspiring young journalists – plagiarism, plagiarism, plagiarism. Whether you took it from The New York Times and pass it off as your own or you had ChatGPT write it for you, if you go present that as your work, that is plagiarism.”
The International Symposium on Online Journalism is a two-day program of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at UT-Austin. Since 1999, the conference has brought journalists, media executives, and scholars from around the world to discuss the impact of the digital revolution on journalism.