Welcome to the first episode of the JournalismAI Collab Diary, a sneak peek into the workings of our collaborative experiment to prototype AI-powered journalistic solutions.
We are introducing this new blog series to bring you with us on this journey: every four weeks, we’ll share a summary of what the Collab teams are working on and the ideas they are developing. Each episode will include what’s new in the Collab, what we are learning from the participants and how you can be part of this journey and help the teams out.
Today: What opportunities will the Collab teams explore over the next months?
The process started with challenges: “from optimising the recommendation of related content to supporting editorial teams with smart news gathering tools and conceiving new ways to make our journalism more diverse and mitigate biases”, as we summarised in the last update.
Starting from the challenges, our 40+ participants organised around five teams and defined what they are going to explore:
Team 1: How might we leverage AI to understand, identify and mitigate newsroom biases?
Team 2: How might AI help us use existing multimedia content/archives to improve the quality of new contents and save time to our journalists?
Team 3: How might we use methods of automation and structured journalism to identify and re-use evergreen content in a way that eases accessibility and makes content snackable?
Team 4: How might we use AI to suggest new content from users’ individual instructions, or from a specific subject, to turn anonymous users into registered users – and potentially paying customers – through greater engagement and loyalty?
Team 5: How might AI help us know more about our visitors? How might we minimise churn and better engage users? How might we optimise conversion funnels?
You’ll have noticed there are some overlaps: that’s the power of the Collab. Teams are necessary to streamline the process, but insights would be lost if they become closed silos. Teams will act instead as communicating channels, sharing learnings and feedback and multiplying the potential of the collaboration by informing each other’s work.
Now that they have redefined their challenges, teams are working on creating concrete ideas to tackle them. In the exploration phase of the next four weeks, participants will gather insights from their own newsrooms to enrich their perspective and they will also map existing industry solutions to find out what they can learn from them.
The exploration work will be consolidated in August. In September we’ll turn the page, moving from exploration to ideation.
What we’ve learned so far
As participants learn new things about AI, we learn a lot from them too. Here are some observations and takeaways for this diary:
1. The enthusiasm for and participation to this project never ceases to surprise us. And that’s in spite of everyone being in the middle of a global pandemic, with the burden that added to journalists and newsrooms worldwide.
Participants are dedicating time and energy to the Collab, joining a number of calls – six in four days during the kick-off week! – setting up dedicated communication channels like Slack and virtual workplaces like Notion, and sharing resources and reading materials with each other. Their attitude in embracing collaboration is what will define the success of this initiative.
2. The process that led to the formation of the teams, and their choice of what challenges to focus on, reminded us once again of how AI has the potential to impact every part of the journalistic process.
From empowering journalists with new smart tools to building loyalty in users and mitigating newsroom biases, the potential of AI is broad, if embraced responsibly.
3. There is a huge deal of people working at the intersection of journalism and AI, but their work is rarely interconnected. It’s been exciting to see many of them reaching out to contribute to the Collab in a variety of ways. We hope that this project might become a catalyst to bring collaboration to the next level and build stronger ties not only between news organisations but also with researchers and technologists of all kinds.
How you can get involved
As we said from the beginning: the Collab is open. Not just to new participants – four more news organisations joined the Collab after the kick-off – but also to anyone in our Network, who might be able to help the teams with their challenges.
Is that you?
If you have specific knowledge or expertise on one or more of the topics explored by the Collab teams, or if you have any recommendations for them about things they should read or listen to, and people they should talk to, we’d love to hear from you.
Contact Mattia at M.Peretti@LSE.ac.uk and let’s chat!
The next episode of the Collab Diary drops in 4 weeks. Stay tuned!
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