August 31, 2023 / Idea File Magazine

5 Simple Ideas for Ethical AI in Yearbook Production

Written by Brandon Meyer

From Clippy the Microsoft paper clip to Grammarly to Photoshop, you have probably used artificial intelligence more than you know. Your Netflix queue, online shopping recommendations and Siri all rely on AI. Though it concerns some industry professionals, the reality is we have been using AI for years without realizing it.

The adoption of AI programs in yearbook production marks a new era in journalism, similar to the mass adoption of digital photography, computers, calculators and the internet. Educators worried then that these tools would prevent students from learning how to do the work on their own, but the resources quickly became part of everyday life. In the same way, AI art and language models will become part of everyday life, though their full impact remains to be seen. With careful consideration and guidelines in place, AI does not have to be a scary unknown or detract from student opportunities to learn.

The best ways to take advantage of AI in the yearbook creation process are as a tool to enhance creativity and efficiency without detracting from or replacing student production. Spend time investigating the best AI prompts to make the most of your yearbook and build rules into your syllabus now.

Tips for Ethical AI Use in Yearbook Production:

  • Choose reputable and reliable AI tools that integrate seamlessly into the production process. User-friendliness is essential.
  • View AI as a supplement, not a replacement, for human creativity and expertise. Staff members should dedicate effort throughout the year to ensure the final product is engaging, fully representative of the year at their school and reflective of their own work.
  • Practice ethical use of AI by considering potential biases and limitations of AI-generated content. Users must ensure these tools are not used for discrimination or to create any false or misleading information.
  • Understand that AI programs are generative modeling tools and not true artificial intelligence. Users must be the final safeguard, aligning AI use with journalistic ethics and principles.


1. Edit and Transcribe Copy Efficiently 

Editing copy and transcribing interviews consume a lot of time in yearbook production. AI tools can greatly expedite and streamline this process. Well-known options like ChatGPT allow easy prompts for editing any pasted text. Additionally, programs such as Ryter, CopyAI, Anyword, CopySmith and SnazzyAI offer both free and paid versions that analyze text to suggest ways to shorten or combine sentences, save valuable time and ensure a concise and engaging final product. Use tools like to record interviews and drastically shorten the tedious transcribing process.

2. Enhance Photography

Photography plays a crucial role in yearbooks. AI tools available online can enhance photo quality and enable more artistic creations. Photoshop, known for its photo editing capabilities, now includes AI-powered tools for object removal, background-edge detection for cutouts, composition suggestions, color palette changes and now in beta testing – Generative Fill. The Adobe Express suite, free with an education email, allows users to create eye-catching cutouts, change color palettes and draft infographics based on images.

Programs like HitPaw Photo Enhancer, Icons8 and Deep Image AI upscale images by increasing image resolution and correcting imperfections like blurry images and image noise to improve AI. If you significantly change an image, label it as a photo illustration in your photo credit and consider listing the tool you used in your colophon. Just be up front about the resources you employ. Walsworth now offers customers the AI- based Picsart in Yearbook 360 ­– Online Design for one-click cutouts and more. 

3. Suggest Timely Coverage Topics

Yearbooks aim to capture the highlights of a school year, including significant world events. While some AI programs like ChatGPT may lack up-to-date knowledge, options like Microsoft’s Bing AI possess internet access and search capabilities. By providing prompts such as “Give me a list of the top 10 hashtags on Instagram this year,” these programs suggest relevant and timely topics, keeping the yearbook fresh and current. AI supplies the idea, but your students create the unique content. Make a habit to fact-check every suggestion.

4. Market Your Book

AI makes marketing your book easier, which in turn brings in more revenue. AI can write attention grabbing marketing emails, generate social media content and translate your message into different languages. Natural language processing algorithms can translate marketing materials into any language, and upcoming tools like Google Universal Translator can dub videos into other languages while changing the speaker’s lip movements to match the new language. AI Chatbot can be used on a website or social media platform so parents can inquire about your book in their native languages. Use AI analytics tools to optimize ad placements, generate emails or flyers and schedule posts at the most opportune times to reach your audience with your custom sales information. AI tools like Flick, Socialbakers, Quillbot and HelloWoofy can repurpose existing social media content, suggest relevant hashtags, predict the best times to post, transcribe words from graphics into captions, instantly brainstorm and plan content and provide insight into your audience and page analytics. Captions can be instantly created and optimized for each social media platform, and design graphics can be resized for different sites and viewing preferences in seconds. 

5. Generate Compelling Headline Suggestions

Crafting attention-grabbing headlines can be a challenge, even for experienced yearbookers. AI can simplify this task. Prompting programs like InstaCopy and others mentioned earlier can generate headline possibilities for various story types. Additionally, pasting the finished story into the program enables it to analyze the text and suggest catchy headlines tailored to that specific story, ensuring the avoidance of repetitive clichés. The prompts it generates may spin more of your own ideas. Using the correct prompts ensures the best results, so specify if you want alliteration, a set number of words or other relevant information.


Bonus Simple Ideas for Ethical AI in Yearbook Production:

  • Find Custom Design Inspiration
    An impactful cover design sets the theme and tone of the yearbook. Instead of traditional sketching, generative art programs like Midjourney or Adobe’s upcoming Firefly can generate cover ideas based on prompts. Though fine-tuning prompts require some learning, these tools aid in translating creative visions onto the page and facilitate efficient selection of cover finalists from staff submissions. Your staff can use these ideas as a starting point or for original inspiration. Think of it as a custom Pinterest board tailored to your exact theme and look. 
  • Detect Plagiarism
    Plagiarism remains a serious issue in education and journalism. AI tools like Copyleaks compare pasted text against an extensive internet database to detect plagiarism. These tools help ensure the originality and ethical production of the final yearbook product. In fact, AI can even tell you if content was likely written by AI! 

While AI is a powerful tool that can revolutionize yearbook creation, it requires proper training and guidance from an experienced adviser. When used responsibly, AI can enhance creativity and efficiency, transforming the way yearbooks are made. Discuss the parameters for AI use in your classroom with your staff so everyone understands the ethical and practical uses
of AI in journalism. 


Want to read more timely topics related to yearbook? Take a look at the fall Idea File magazine online to see different stories focused on how to make your yearbook the best it can be.

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Brandon Meyer

Brandon Meyer is an dedicated educator from Beaumont, California, with 13 years of teaching experience and a special focus on guiding students as the yearbook adviser for 8 years. His passion for effective communication was cultivated during his time at UC Santa Barbara, where he was recognized as the "Outstanding Headline Writer" at the Daily Nexus newspaper. A skilled award-winning poet, he artfully captures intricate emotions through his verses. Beyond the literary world, Brandon is a fervent live music aficionado, boasting a remarkable attendance record of over 400 concerts, a testament to his profound love for diverse artistic expression.