Essential AI concepts for news leaders

Understand the AI terrain ahead

A collection of seminars for media leaders, 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

The focus is on real practices, updated to the day. The sessions are led by Andrew Cochran, former head of strategy at CBC News in Canada and editor of, the annotated guide to developments in AI and their effects on 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.

Growing capabilities in AI-generated media also could challenge traditional ideas of journalistic authority, changing the dynamics of competitive advantage, upending legal and ethical foundations. The effects could equal or exceed the scale of the last disruption, known as ‘the crisis.’

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

  • workflows
  • recruiting
  • standards & ethics
  • skills & learning needs
  • the speed of reporting
  • new relationships between storytellers and technologists
  • new relationships between storytellers and audiences/readers
  • new ways of storytelling and new kinds of stories to tell

Four modules

We break down the material into manageable chunks. We offer varying levels of detail in four modules. Each can be done one-at-a-time or consecutively. Individual sessions provide an efficient way to gain familiarity in a discussion-based, seminar format, tailored to organizational circumstances. Grouped together, they create the basis for an AI strategy.

  1. Fundamentals – understanding the different forms and terminology of AI, how AI algorithms work, why and how AI will effect journalism, identifying potential journalistic impacts in AI advances
  2. Practices – current and emerging uses in newsrooms, impacts on now, next, and why, considerations to build, buy, or borrow, implications for current staff, recruiting, and workflows
  3. Working with algorithms in the loop – implications for standards and ethics, understanding algorithmic bias, developing tactics for 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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