Axel Springer CEO Cautions AI Could ‘Simply Replace’ Journalism Jobs

Axel Springer, an international media conglomerate based in Germany, has predicted that many journalists will likely be “simply replaced” by AI.

The cautionary tale comes after the company cut an unreported number of jobs, reportedly attempting to improve its annual results by more than $100 million in three years.

Axel Springer boasts a wide collection of media outlets; the conglomerate owns Europe’s Bild, the German newspaper Die Welt, and even the American media outlets Politico and Business Insider.

Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner wrote a letter to his employees stating that the company will inevitably slash many jobs, with AI worsening the situation.

“There will be significant job reductions in the areas of production, layout, proofreading and administration,” read the letter.

Döpfner stated the group would “build up and cut jobs at the same time. There will be a voluntary severance program. We are trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.” He also explained that the company’s outcomes will have to improve by around €100 million ($106 million) within the next three years, specifying, “Through increases in turnover, but also through cost reductions.”

Axel Springer’s remarks were covered by WION, a news agency that describes itself as the first global news network in India:

After claiming that “artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to make independent journalism better than it ever was — or simply replace it,” Döpfner reportedly called for a push on more unique forms of reporting, particularly investigative journalism.

Currently, a total of 18,000 people around the world work for Axel Springer, with 3,400 of the employees being journalists.

The Springer CEO promised that the company’s “journalistic core” would remain intact, while noting “we will also part with colleagues in the editorial offices if certain profiles no longer fit the required competencies.”

As was covered by Deutsche Welle, Döpfner explained that Ai-run tools such as the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT are signaling a “revolution” in information, likely foreshadowing an end of a career for many journalists.

Döpfner additionally indicated that Springer plans to ultimately scrap its legacy business of paper publications and will become a “digital only” media company within the next few years.