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Mattia Peretti

February 15th, 2021

One network, many voices: Listening to the JournalismAI community

0 comments | 5 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Mattia Peretti

February 15th, 2021

One network, many voices: Listening to the JournalismAI community

0 comments | 5 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Last December, we designed a survey to find out more about the people we engage with at JournalismAI. In the twelve months prior, the size of our community increased five-fold, from less than 600 people to almost 3,000. A level of growth that, let’s be honest, we weren’t expecting. And that pointed to the urgency of finding ways to learn more about the people behind the numbers:

  • Who are the members of our community?
  • Why do they value our work?
  • What can we do to serve them better? 

We cannot claim that we are working to support our community and to help them explore the potential of AI-powered technologies if we don’t know who is actually part of that community. So here’s what we have learned:

[The following insights come from the 104 responses we collected via the survey. A non-representative (4%), but indicative sample.]

A vast majority (88%) of our community works in media, journalism, and technology – the remaining 12% are students. More than half of them (56%) work for news media organisations, 13% in research and academia and 12% in the nonprofit sector. Media startups and technology companies are also represented in the community (7% each).

The results confirm how AI technologies are having an impact on every step of the journalistic process: among respondents who work for news media organisations, 25% work as editors, 21% work in innovation roles and departments, 18% are journalists and producers, 14% have a leadership role, 12% work in AI and data science teams, with the remaining 10% distributed across product, marketing, and other departments.

Overall, almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) say that their jobs (or studies) involve using, researching, or somehow dealing with AI technologies – but only 10% routinely use AI in their work. The others are mostly actively exploring how they could use AI in their work (40%) and researching AI technologies as part of their work (16%), while about a third (35%) only have a general interest in understanding how journalism is being impacted by AI.

Encouragingly, most respondents (74%) assert that their understanding of how AI can be used in journalism has improved as a result of their engagement with JournalismAI and an even more significant majority (88%) is likely to recommend JournalismAI to their colleagues.

When asked about their motivations for engaging with JournalismAI, our respondents mention a general interest in learning more about the use of AI in journalism and its impact on the news-making process. More specifically, they follow our work to learn how they, personally, can use AI to improve their journalism and to help their organisation to adopt and implement AI technologies. Other motivations for following JournalismAI include: to learn new skills for career development; to learn about AI-powered tools; to know what other organisations are doing with AI; to engage in collaboration and knowledge-sharing initiatives.

Our 2019 report is “a must-read for all media students, professionals and practitioners”, the monthly newsletter is seen as “really engaging and a good way to identify relevant material”, and there’s much enthusiasm in the survey for the online Festival we hosted in December: “It was fantastic! I enjoyed all of the content and found it very relevant to my work.” About the project as a whole, one respondent says of it:

The information is always highly relevant, like nothing I see elsewhere and something I share with colleagues. It feels well-researched and reliable in a way that contrasts with a lot of AI snake oil or buzzwords.

And what can we improve this year to make our activities even more useful for our community? Among the most recurring requests, there’s an appetite for more training resources and online courses on AI and machine learning, as well as for more online events and workshops to learn from the experts. Our community wants our resources to be more accessible and suggests we create more explainers and how-to guides to move the first steps in their AI journey. Other common suggestions include: sharing more case studies and examples of best practice; information on AI-powered tools, products, and services; opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange within the community; and cooperation with universities on teaching and research.

Last, but absolutely not least, the survey confirms how global and diverse our community really is: the 104 respondents are based in 42 different countries, almost half of them in Europe (46%), 22% in the Asia-Pacific region, 19% in Africa and Middle-East, and 13% in the Americas. The community also shows a good balance in relation to gender – 54% men, 45% women, 1% non-binary (among those who indicated their gender in the survey) – and age distribution: about half of respondents (53%) fall into the 35-50 group, while 26% are younger than 35 and 21% are over 50 years old. 

 

This leaves us with clear indications about opportunities for improvement: in 2021 we will focus on expanding our community towards the so-called “Global South”, including more female professionals to improve the gender balance, and engaging more young journalists and journalism students – because they, more than anyone else, need to prepare for a future where the role and impact of AI in journalism will only become more pronounced.

What we have learned via the community survey is already informing the design of our 2021 activities. It led us to update our overall mission statement and to expand the team to make sure we have all the skills we need to achieve our ambitious goals.

If you are a member of our community and you shared your insights via the community survey: Thank you. If you haven’t yet, you can still take the survey and enrich our perspective with your feedback and ideas. 

This is a special year for the journey of JournalismAI and we are excited to be on the road with you. Stay tuned and sign up for the newsletter to receive all the updates and join the community on Telegram to meet and learn with other members of this fantastic global community.


JournalismAI is a project of POLIS, supported by the Google News Initiative.

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Mattia Peretti

Posted In: JournalismAI

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