News Practices with AI: 2019

We distill what artificial intelligence means for journalism in order to act

These briefings are for news leaders looking to enhance and crystallize their understanding of artificial intelligence systems in order to plan next steps.

The material is drawn from up-to-date studies and real practices. We combine findings in research labs and implementations in newsrooms around the world. The briefings are by Andrew Cochran, former head of news strategy for CBC and now editor of, the online resource that tracks developments in AI and journalism.


Algorithms are being used to gather news, present news, look for news, and more. Some AI machines are helping news writers with tips or research or rapid transcription. Some are generating deep fakes, showing authority figures saying false things, while others simulate trusted personalities to create AI-driven ‘virtual anchors’ that deliver the news. AI tools are expected to keep becoming more sophisticated, perhaps exponentially.


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

Or, algorithms may 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. There will be impacts 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, offered as stand-alones. Used consecutively, they create the basis for an action plan tailored to the individual circumstances of a newsroom.

  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 to augment/replace, decisions to build/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 & ethics, tactics to increase accountability
  4. Practical steps forward – developing an action plan for the specific needs and aspirations of a newsroom


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

Suitable for

  • 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 news practices with AI in daily 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

See our site for

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.