Reports say that Microsoft Corporation is laying off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations.
The layoffs are part of a bigger push by Microsoft to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content that’s presented on MSN.com, inside Microsoft’s Edge browser, and in the company’s various Microsoft News apps.
Many of the affected workers are part of Microsoft’s SANE (search, ads, News, Edge) division, and are contracted as human editors to help pick stories.
A Microsoft spokesperson in a statement that “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis which 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.”
While Microsoft says the layoffs are not directly related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, media businesses across the world have been hit hard by advertising revenues plummeting across TV, newspapers, online, and more.
When news broke out about the layoffs, it was said that around 50 jobs were affected. The Microsoft News job losses are also affecting international teams after Microsoft decided to stop employing humans to curate articles on its homepages.
The company has been in the news business for more than 25 years, after launching MSN in 1995. At the launch of Microsoft News nearly two years ago, Microsoft revealed it had “more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world.”
Microsoft has gradually been moving towards AI for its Microsoft News work in recent months, and has been encouraging publishers and journalists to make use of AI, too. Microsoft has been using AI to scan for content and then process and filter it and even suggest photos for human editors to pair it with.
Microsoft had been using human editors to curate top stories from a variety of sources to display on Microsoft News, MSN, and Microsoft Edge. Edited by TechMetro Africa