Google is quietly making deals with some publishers to use new generative AI tools to publish stories, according to in Adweek. The deals, reportedly worth tens of thousands of dollars a year, are apparently part of the Google News Initiative (GNI), a six-year program that funds, and other resources for newsrooms. But moving to generative AI publishing tools would be a new and possibly controversial step for the company.

According to Adweek, the program currently targets a “handful” of smaller publishers. “Beta tools allow under-resourced publishers to create aggregated content more efficiently by indexing recently published reports generated by other organizations, such as government agencies and neighborhood news outlets, and then aggregating and publishing them as a new article,” reports Adweek .

However, it is not clear exactly how much publishers are being paid under the agreement Adweek says it’s a “five-figure sum” per year. In return, media organizations agree to publish at least three articles per day, one weekly newsletter and one monthly marketing campaign using the tools.

It should be noted that publishers in the program are apparently not required to disclose their use of AI, nor are aggregated websites informed that their content is being used to create AI-written stories on other sites. The AI-generated copy reportedly uses a color-coded system to indicate the trustworthiness of each section of text to help editors review content before publication.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement to Adweek the company said it was “in the early stages of exploring ideas to potentially provide AI-enabled tools to assist journalists in their work.” The spokesperson added that AI tools “are not intended to, and cannot, replace the essential role that journalists play in reporting, creating and fact-checking their articles.”

It’s unclear what Google gets out of the deal, though it wouldn’t be the first tech company to pay newsrooms to use its own tools. The deal bears some similarities to deals Facebook once made with publishers to create live video content in 2016. The social media company made headlines for paying publishers to improve its nascent video platform, and dozens of media outlets opted out. “point to video” as the result.

Those deals later evaporated after Facebook discovered it had the number of impressions such content receives. Social network its live video deals soon after and has since changed its algorithm to recommend less news content. The media industry’s ‘return to video’ is costing hundreds of journalists their jobs, grades.

While the GNI program seems much smaller than what Facebook tried nearly a decade ago with live video, it is likely to raise new scrutiny on publishers’ use of generative AI tools. Posts like and have been widely criticized for trying to present AI-generated articles as written by human staff.