Microsoft’s MSN layoffs editorial team, to replace them with AI
Microsoft is laying off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations.
The layoffs are components of a more significant push by Microsoft to rely on artificial intelligence to choose news and content that’s exhibited on MSN.com, inside Microsoft’s Edge browser, and in the company’s various Microsoft News apps.
Many of the concerned workers are part of Microsoft’s SANE (search, ads, News, Edge) division, and are contracted as human editors to improve pick stories.
Business Insider first published the layoffs on Friday and stated that around 50 jobs are affected in the US. The Microsoft News job losses are also affecting international teams, and The Guardian reports that about 27 are being let go in the UK after Microsoft chose to stop employing humans to curate articles on its homepages.
According to an article in the Seattle Times on Saturday, approximately 50 employees have been informed: “that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30”.
Microsoft spokesperson states in a statement, “Like all companies, we evaluate our business regularly.”
“This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”
The work involves using algorithms to recognize trending news stories from dozens of publishing partners, rewrite headlines, or adding better photographs or slide shows.
While Microsoft states the layoffs aren’t straight related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, media businesses across the world have been struck by advertising revenues plummeting across TV, newspapers, online, and more.
Microsoft has been in the news market for more than 25 years, after beginning MSN back in 1995. At the launch of Microsoft News almost two years ago, Microsoft announced it had “more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world.”
Microsoft has steadily been moving towards AI for its Microsoft News work in recent months and has been assisting publishers and journalists to make use of AI, too.
Microsoft has been practising AI to scan for content and then process and filter it and even recommend photos for human editors to match it with. Microsoft had been using human editors to curate top stories from a variety of sources to present on Microsoft News, MSN, and Microsoft Edge.