How AI is Enhancing Journalism

Carolyn Stransky

Last given at the Women TechMakers Vienna virtual conference on August 7, 2020.

For reference:

  • AI = artificial intelligence
  • ML = machine learning


πŸ€– Heliograf from The Washington Post
A robot reporter that produced aroundΒ 850 articles in its first yearΒ and earned The Post an award for its β€œExcellence in Use of Bots” from its work on the 2016 US election coverage.
πŸ“° How to cover 11,250 elections at once: Here’s how The Washington Post’s new computational journalism lab will tackle 2020 by Nieman Lab

πŸ€– Bertie from Forbes
An AI publishing platform designed specifically for Forbes' in-house newsroom and partners. It recommends trending topics to cover, ways to make headlines more compelling and relevant imagery to accompany stories.
πŸ“Ή Video demo

πŸ€– Quakebot from LA Times
Whenever an alert from the U.S. Geological Survey comes in about an earthquake above a certain size threshold, Quakebot is programmed to extract the relevant data and generate a story.
πŸ’» A gist describing how Quakebot works

πŸ€– ReporterMate from Guardian Australia
An automated system that reports on politics and probably more to come. Published its first article in February 2019.
πŸ’» Open source code for ReporterMate

πŸ€–/πŸ›° Drone War Zone Reporters by Al Jazeera
An idea to have a drone fly into a dangerous area and deploy a robot that could do first-hand reporting for Al Jazeera.

Reports done with AI and/or ML

πŸ“° The Homicide Report from the LA Times
A robot that collects information on every homicide committed in Los Angeles.

πŸ“° Chamber of Secrets: Teaching a Machine What Congress Cares About from ProPublica
ProPublica trained a computer model to comb through thousands of press releases to extract what phrases each Congress member uses most frequently.

πŸ“° We Trained A Computer To Search For Hidden Spy Planes. This Is What It Found. from BuzzFeed
An algorithm sift for planes with flight patterns that resembled those operated by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Automation tools

πŸ’¬ The New York Times, with a little help from automation, is aiming to open up most articles to comments
An overview of how the New York Times handles comments today and what they are planning to roll out.

πŸ’¬ Perspective API from Google parent Alphabet's tech incubator
Uses machine learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation.

πŸ’¬ Talk by Coral Project
Utilizes the Perspective API to create a customizable moderation tool specifically built for a newsroom use case.

πŸ—£ Trint
Company based in London that uses voice recognition to transcribe interviews in multiple languages.

πŸ“Š Facets by Google People + AI Research
Machine learning data visualization tool.

Initiatives around journalism and AI

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Quartz AI Studio by Quartz
Helping journalists use machine learning.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Google News Initiative by Google
Google's effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Journalism AI by Google News Initiative
Partnership with Polis aiming to help the news industry use AI in more innovative ways.
➑️ The results of their global survey of how news organizations use these technologies

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» OpenNews incubated at Mozilla
Connects a network of developers, designers, journalists and editors to collaborate on open technologies and processes within journalism.
➑️ Journalism tech seminars at MozFest

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) by Mozilla
A comprehensive effort to keep the internet credible and healthy.
➑️ Mozilla Foundation's commitment to ethical AI work

Quoted articles and books

πŸ“ 8 reasons why journalists should use data to improve their stories from IJNet
An interview with fellow Catherine Gicheru explaining the uses of data in both traditional and modern reporting.

πŸ“ Artificial intelligence demands genuine journalism
Director of OSF's Program on Independent Journalism Maria Teresa Ronderos writes about why journalists should embrace new technologies like AI rather than fearing them.

πŸ“• Elements of Journalism
A classic Journalism 101 book by Bill Kovatch and Tom Rosenstiel outlining the foundational principles of journalism.

πŸ“ Why Journalists Need To Understand Artificial Intelligence from the European Journalism Observatory
Latoya Peterson discusses the urgency and need for journalists to understand AI technologies.

Educational programs

πŸŽ“Journalism & Computer Science Degree at Columbia Journalism School
Columbia University's dual degree program in Journalism and Computer Science.

🌐 Training Center by the Google News Initiative
Over 40 lessons designed specifically for journalists on Google products and tools to aid reporting.

Other resources

βš–οΈ Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
An example of a public code of ethics document.

πŸ‘“ Automated Insights by Associated Press
Reports that AI helps to free up about 20% of journalists' time.

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