Lauren Gustus: Where The Tribune will — and won’t — use artificial intelligence

Reporting is a human-driven process. And we should be experimenting with AI.

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

This is part of a series in which Utahns share their insight on AI. Read more here.

ChatGPT, a language processing tool powered by artificial intelligence, quickly became the most widely adopted AI tool when it was released to the public in late 2022. Many newsrooms ignored it because they were unsure of what to do with it.

At The Tribune, we formed a group of reporters and editors who had an interest or experience with AI to build our guidelines. The group met over a series of months to form much of what I’ve shared below.

What you’ll find here is a look at how The Tribune is approaching AI in journalism. Of course, our approach comes with a significant caveat that tech changes quickly. And we must change with it.

Purpose and Usage

The goal of AI is to help us extend our staff to better serve you, our readers.

AI may be used for summarization purposes, such as generating search-engine optimized headlines or description of articles based on human-generated content. There are several tools that can help us do this work, and we’re currently vetting them.

No generative content should be included in an article unless expressly permitted by the executive editor. This permission should be limited to specific segments of stories that are clearly identified as AI-generated.

Generative photos should not be used in Tribune articles. However, the use of generative charts may be permitted, provided they are accurate, attributed and clearly identified as AI-generated.

No AI content will be published without human oversight.


We are encouraging Tribune journalists to experiment with AI technology in the news gathering and production process. For example, we can use AI to summarize video and audio of public meetings. With 29 counties, more than 250 cities and towns and countless education, water and planning boards and commissions, it’s not possible for our team to have eyes on every decision that will impact Utahns. But AI can offer highlights and transcripts.

Already, The Tribune uses an AI-supported transcription service to convert audio interviews into text. Another example: We share videos on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok in which AI is used to add captions for those who prefer to watch without listening. Finally, we used AI to extract information from PDFs of historic documents when we created a database of Indigenous students’ experiences at Utah boarding schools.


Journalists and editorial staff must disclose the use of AI in the creation of articles to their editors. Transparency helps maintain trust and ensures accountability.

If we produce them, AI-generated articles will be clearly labeled so it is easy for you to identify them, both at the beginning and end of pieces.

Looking forward

These ethical guidelines aim to ensure responsible and transparent use of AI in journalism, maintaining the integrity of news reporting while leveraging the benefits offered by AI technologies. I’m grateful to the team of Tribune journalists who helped form our guidelines.

Tribune reporting is independent, fact-based and original. On our best days we’re sharing news and information that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

My best guess is that artificial intelligence will support reporting in ways we haven’t yet imagined. For now, we’re confident that it’s not anywhere near as talented, thorough or careful as our team of reporters.

For example, as we prepared this series of AI-related commentaries, we asked Chat GPT to summarize the history of The Tribune in 500 words, and to provide a headline for the article. There were numerous inaccuracies, and as a result the summary didn’t meet our publication standards.

I hope we get faster and more efficient, so we’re able to offer even more local reporting.

But I’m also confident in a process that has persisted for centuries. Journalism needs smart people to ask the right questions of those in positions of knowledge and power. Our commitment to doing so is as strong as ever.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Executive Editor Lauren Gustus.

Lauren Gustus is the executive editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.