Essential AI concepts for news leaders

Understand the AI terrain ahead

These briefings are for news executives and senior editors looking to deepen their understanding of artificial intelligence in order to plan next steps. Participants will acquire a working knowledge of the concepts and language of AI systems. We will cover:

  • Uses, prospects, limitations, ethical implications, and effects on the competitive landscape.
  • Ways to assess emerging developments and what to look for
  • How to weigh uses of AI now or in the future and tactics for how to begin
  • Considerations for reporting AI as a story

Issues will be current to the week, focusing on real practices. The briefings are by Andrew Cochran, former head of strategy at CBC News in Canada and editor of, the leading online resource tracking developments in AI and journalism.


Algorithms are being used to gather news, present news, look for news, and help prepare news. Some AI machines are supplying tips or transcription or rapid research, freeing-up capacity by taking on tedious tasks and delivering help on demand. Others are preparing templated stories ready for publishing, often in seconds. Some are challenging verification with deep fakes, video made up by AI models that show authority figures saying false things, while others are simulating network TV personalities as ‘virtual anchors’ delivering the news.


Future systems may create a renaissance in journalism, surfacing facts previously unobtainable, making stories more relevant for audiences, speeding and handling routine coverage so well that human storytellers can spend more time on human stories.

At the same time, algorithmic ability could challenge traditional ideas of journalistic authority, upending legal and ethical foundations and changing the dynamics of competitive advantage. It could equal or exceed the scale of the last disruption, known as ‘the crisis.’

Either way, news practices with AI will influence how news work is done and who does what. Change can be expected in:

  • workflows
  • recruiting
  • standards & ethics
  • training
  • the speed of reporting
  • new relationships between storytellers and technologists
  • new ways of storytelling and new kinds of stories to tell

Four modules

We break down the material into manageable chunks. The sessions are in four modules. Used consecutively, they create the basis for an action plan. As stand alones, they provide just-in-time learning.

  1. Fundamentals of how AI works – concepts, terminology, how to critically assess emerging developments
  2. Practices with AI in newsrooms – present uses in gathering and presentation, the force multiplier effect, choices whether to augment or replace, decisions to build or buy, implications for recruiting and workflows
  3. Possibilities and perils of algorithms – identifying and using datasets, knowing algorithmic bias, understanding appreciation of algorithm results, implications for standards and ethics, tactics to increase accountability
  4. Practical steps forward – tactical components for an action plan


  • Modules are tailored to organizational circumstances
  • Sessions can be at your location or we can arrange for an offsite nearby
  • Option for one-on-one briefings by video call or phone over a series of weeks
  • We work internationally

Note: this is not a course about coding, nor about data journalism, and instead about concepts and influences of AI as they apply to news organizations

Bookings available for October 2019 and beyond


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