AI + News Practices 2019

AI systems are being used in more ways in more newsrooms.

THESE BRIEFINGS ARE UPDATED through the year and reflect the latest developments in how machine systems are being used in journalism. The future of AI in news is not about HAL or Terminator becoming reporters, but it is about more than current uses of automated systems. We discuss the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and its benefits, limitations, and influences in newsroom operations.


Algorithms are gathering news, signalling news, preparing news, and presenting news. Some AI machines are producing deep fakes, showing authority figures saying false things. Other systems are simulating trusted personalities, creating AI-driven ‘virtual anchors’ that deliver the news. AI tools are expected to keep improving, perhaps exponentially.


Future systems will challenge traditional ideas of journalistic authority and competitive advantage. It could be at the scale of the last disruption, known as ‘the crisis’. Or it might create a renaissance in journalism, surfacing facts and patterns previously inaccessible, handling routine coverage so human storytellers can focus on human stories. Either way, AI systems will influence how news work is done and who does what. Impacts are likely in workflows, standards, ethics, recruiting, re-training, and in forming new relationships between storytellers and technologists.

Four modules

We break down the material into manageable chunks, liberally drawing connections to newsroom relevance and presented in a mix of briefings and discussions. The sessions are in four modules, offered either consecutively or as stand-alones:

  1. Fundamentals of how AI works – concepts, terminology, what to look for in emerging developments
  2. AI in newsrooms – applications in use, the force multiplier effect, augment/replace, build/buy, recruiting, workflows
  3. Possibilities and perils of algorithms – datasets, bias, appreciation, standards & ethics, accountability
  4. Practical steps forward – building capacity, curiosity-based design, codes, developing individual action plans per newsroom


  • Strategy workshop format: Modules 1,2,3,4 over 2.5 days – groups of 4-8 people, resulting in an action plan for application of AI tools
  • Group orientation format: Modules 1, 2, 3 in one day – briefing and engaged conversation
  • 1×1 discussion format: Modules 1, 2, 3 in one-hour sessions over 6-8 weeks – tailored to needs and situations of individual leaders
  • Standalone format: Any one of the modules, by situation


  • Publishers/news executives
  • Senior editors
  • Journalism leaders

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


  • Critical assessment of the benefits and limitations for AI systems in news operations
  • Practical steps tailored to respective newsrooms
  • Watchlist for new developments
  • Go-forward familiarity with the terms and concepts of AI systems


  • Workshops and group formats can be conducted at your business, or we can arrange an offsite venue nearby
  • One-on-one format is by video call or phone
  • We work internationally

Bookings currently available for August 2019 and beyond

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