AI-AI-Oh! – Editor And Publisher Magazine

Robin Blinder | for E&P Magazine

I’ve been bombarded with AI everywhere I turn, in everything I read and everywhere I go lately. It may seem that way when you read our May issue. This wasn’t a mistake or oversight. AI is critical to our industry moving forward — if only to understand what it means for our future.

I’m old enough (don’t ask) to remember the beginning of the internet, email and mobile phones. I had one of the big brick cellphones and had to “dial up” to use the internet. It took so long that you could get a cup of coffee and chat with coworkers before you came back to “be connected.” I also read plenty of sci-fi and nonfiction about robots taking over our lives — or, on the upside, taking over all of our mundane chores. Anyone remember The Jetsons? So, it’s a bit surreal to me that we have come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of AI gold is somewhat shiny and tarnished at the same time.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve read and heard most of the scary stories about AI taking your job and decimating our industry. There are concerns, which we raise in our cover story, “AI changes everything.” Generative AI-powered search is one of those aspects that increases the sense of unease in many of us thinking about the revenue decline in our industry. Our story is a call to action for us all because to stick our heads in the sand at this point almost certainly means our demise. As Jennifer Bertetto, president and CEO of Trib Total Media and 535media, said in our cover story, “I think it would be foolish not to take advantage of these opportunities because, let’s face it, AI is here. I hope, as an industry, we don’t make the same mistakes that we have in the past and that when we see emerging technology, we don’t ignore it — we don’t marginalize it until it’s too late.”

We all know what ignoring disrupters has done to this industry in the past, and AI is, if anything, a disrupter. This message is for all of us — large and small, community and national, niche and generalized, young and old. If you don’t understand it, learn about it by reading, experimenting or taking a class. You don’t have to embrace it in every area of your life but try to approach it with an open mind. As Francis Wick told Gretchen Peck, “If you ask me, the biggest challenges are not going to be clicks on Google search; they’re going to be cultural changes to recalibrate to this new reality. I do think there are some real opportunities for those who are willing to ‘let go.’… I also think there’s a real opportunity here — for the first time in my career — where we’re at a tipping point of letting go. And if we let go, I think the future is actually pretty encouraging.”

Approach it with caution and care, but approach it. After all, it could mean the difference between a bright future and no future at all. If this old girl can learn a new trick or two …

Robin Blinder is E&P’s editor-in-chief. She has been with E&P for four years. She can be reached at [email protected].