NewsNews Literacy Project


Do you know who's writing your news?

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-26 12:14:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY — For News Literacy Week, FOX 13 News is taking a look at a growing trend in the last few months: articles written using artificial intelligence (AI).

The growth of AI-written news articles is on the rise and a trend some people are worried about.

We decided to conduct an experiment to see if students at the University of Utah could tell the difference between real news articles and those created using AI. The results can be seen in the video above.

A Pew Research Center study says 8 in 10 Americans get their news from digital devices.

What many don’t know is that some of those aren't written by people, but by artificial intelligence.

“One of the biggest challenges right now is misinformation or information that's not created by individuals, right?” said Avery Holton, the chair of the University of Utah Department of Communication. "If you've consumed any sort of news online in the past 10 years, you've encountered AI... Right now, roughly a quarter of news and information that's online and accessible is either created by AI — artificial intelligence — or in tandem with AI.”

Data-driven stories tend to be the category of articles that are written by AI the most.

“Sports — when a game is over, very quickly releases from AIs and bots that take data and turn them into stories that we can consume," Holton said. "Weather, traffic, even obituaries for a number of years have been written by AI.”

This is why news literacy is so important and something FOX 13 News is championing.

"News literacy today means being able to navigate across a number of different digital, online, and in-person or traditional resources, and to be able to navigate the content and the sources there within,” Avery said.

A lot of the buzz about AI and its mass usage has come from something called ChatGPT.

Unlike other AI systems, ChatGPT can write 10 unique responses to 10 different people if given the exact same prompt.

Another member of the University of Utah community looking at AI is Vivek Srikumar. His background is in natural language processing and research in machine learning AI.

“On one hand, it produces this seriously authoritative — almost in the style of a news article — sort-of-looking prose,” Srikumar said. "At the same time, it has no basis in factual knowledge, which is fascinating.”

So FOX 13 News tried AI alongside Srikumar, and the more we worked with it, the stranger the responses became — even making up sources and quotes to fit what it was writing.

“So it not only hallucinates facts, it can also hallucinate sources for those facts, which is a little bit scary,” Srikumar said. “People who consume this news should probably be aware of the fact that this may not be real, so it may be possible to kind of push an agenda about a world that does not exist.”

We tasked ChatGPT to create an article about the 2020 election of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.


Salt Lake City, Utah - Republican Spencer Cox has been elected as the next Governor of Utah. The tight race between Cox and his democratic opponent, Chris Peterson, was ultimately decided by a margin of just over 2%.

Cox, who currently serves as the Lieutenant Governor of Utah, campaigned on a platform of small government, low taxes, and protecting Second Amendment rights. In his victory speech, Cox stated, "I am honored and humbled to have been elected as the next Governor of Utah. I want to thank the people of this great state for placing their trust in me. I promise to work tirelessly to keep our economy strong, protect our freedoms, and preserve the unique way of life that makes Utah so special.”

Democratic candidate Chris Peterson congratulated Cox on his victory and said, "I wish Governor-elect Cox all the best as he takes on this important role. While we may have disagreed on some issues, I know that he cares deeply about the people of Utah and will work hard to represent all of us.”

Utah Senator Mitt Romney also released a statement saying, "Spencer Cox has been a dedicated public servant and a strong leader for the state of Utah. I have no doubt that he will make an excellent Governor and I look forward to working with him to address the challenges facing our state.”

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson said in a statement, "Spencer Cox has the experience and leadership skills needed to guide Utah through these challenging times. I am confident that he will be an effective Governor for all of our citizens.”

The Governor-elect is expected to take office in January.


There were major errors, such as saying the margin of the race was only 2 percent. But more alarming: All of the quotes used are entirely made up.

“When it actually does hallucinate facts because it sounds so authoritative... on its own, it seems convincing," Srikumar said. "But could people spot the difference?”

It's one more reason why checking multiple news sources is a good idea.

“To sort of neutralize and to get all perspectives can also help you cue in on, ' OK, what feels strange here?'” Avery said.

In a world of AI, taking accountability for who and what you listen to is more important than ever.

“I wouldn't be surprised if this time next year, you know, we were in the same spot having a conversation,” Avery said. "How much now is out there? Because it's here, it's just right under the current.”