A Culture Article for a College's Student Paper
WordPress’ AI image generation tool produces a news article.

Okay, kind of. I had ChatGPT write an article and included it below. The purpose of this little experiment isn’t to get AI to do my job for me (although I did get 347 words out of it). Rather, I wanted to see whether the current state of AI, for all the splash it’s making in popular culture right now, is actually a viable alternative for human writing.

Of course, this depends on what we decide constitutes “good writing.” For example, should emotion inform news rhetoric? It would be inappropriate for me to opine on the issue–hence my decision to write this as a “culture” article and not an Op-Ed. However, the difference between ChatGPT’s article and the rest of the content in Northern Review might nevertheless be present. For another, is there room for personal bias in news rhetoric? The obvious answer is “no,” but many argue true impartiality is unattainable. This line is often used on human fallibility, but is the same true of AI? Hopefully, ChatGPT can give us some answers. My prompt (blue) and the response (orange) are shown below.

The Northern Review is Ohio Northern University’s student-run newspaper. It focuses on content of relevance to the student body. It has news, opinion, culture, sports, photography, and column sections. Write an article for the Northern Review.

Title: A Look at the Mental Health Resources Available on Campus

As students at Ohio Northern University, we often face a range of challenges, from the stress of academics to the demands of extracurricular activities and relationships. Mental health concerns are prevalent among college students, and it is important that we have access to resources to support our well-being. Fortunately, ONU offers a variety of mental health resources to help students navigate these challenges.

The Counseling Center is the primary resource for mental health services on campus. Located on the third floor of McIntosh Center, the center is staffed by licensed counselors who offer individual counseling, group counseling, and crisis intervention services. Students can schedule appointments by calling the center or by filling out a form on the Counseling Center’s webpage. The Counseling Center also offers workshops and presentations on topics such as stress management, anxiety, and depression.

In addition to the Counseling Center, ONU also provides a number of other mental health resources. Students can access mental health services through the Health Center, which offers medical care and mental health assessments, as well as referrals to outside providers. The Office of Accessibility Services can provide accommodations for students with mental health disabilities, such as extended time on exams or reduced course loads.

Furthermore, ONU’s religious and spiritual organizations can also offer support for students seeking guidance and comfort. The University Chaplain is available for pastoral counseling, and campus ministries provide opportunities for spiritual growth and community.

It is important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns, do not hesitate to reach out for support. ONU’s mental health resources are available to all students, regardless of their background or circumstances.

In conclusion, mental health is a crucial component of our well-being as students. By utilizing the resources available on campus, we can take steps to prioritize our mental health and build resilience to better navigate the challenges of college life. Let us remember to take care of ourselves and each other, and to reach out for help when we need it.

So, how should we go about evaluating this response? To begin, this response fails on a few empirical grounds. First, the counseling center is not located in McIntosh. Any student would also know that McIntosh doesn’t have a third floor. 

What about rhetorical style and strength of writing? I find relatively little problem with GhatGPT’s use of syntax and organization. Progression is demonstrated throughout the article, including the use of transitions and recollection of previous ideas. The vocabulary is relatively nuanced, and the tone is surprisingly clinical, despite the message and subject matter. This begs the question of whether emotion has a place in news rhetoric in the first place. This is still a matter of contention and one I cannot resolve myself. There may be reasonable disagreement on this, and your stance will inform your assessment of ChatGPT’s performance.

What about bias? Arguably, the paragraph about religion implies endorsement. I would not put that in this article if I wrote it, or at least I would not have phrased it the same way. There is also the explicit line, “It is important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.” While this is a message most people can get behind, there is still more editorialization than the norm for the Northern Review.

While my thoughts are informed by my experience working for the Northern Review, I lack the professional qualifications to assess the compositional strength of a piece of writing. For that, I turned to Dr. Doug Dowland, an English professor at Ohio Northern. He says he would give this article a C- if he were grading it for one of his classes. He elaborates, “fundamentally, there’s life missing from it: a lack of complex vocabulary, a sense of a college-age writer behind the voice. The “we” the article mentions could be any university, or any place, really: there’s a lack of specificity.”

By Gabriel Mott

News Editor, Award-Winning Satirical Columnist, Writer

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