Artificial intelligence (AI) drives innovation at news organizations around the world. Journalists use algorithms to find patterns in data to inform investigations and identify breaking news. Automation enables more efficient news production. AI helps drive subscriptions and personalize news for consumers. Yet AI advantages are largely limited to larger, national and international media. Many small, locally focused newsrooms lack the resources and skills to understand the potential of AI and are afraid to commit to experiments without a clear payoff.
The Knight Foundation has funded an initiative to help local news organizations expand their use of AI, harnessing it for long-term sustainability. As part of this effort, The Associated Press and the Knight Lab are developing a scorecard for AI newsroom readiness. The benchmark will help news organizations determine whether they are ready to implement AI systems.
In this Knight Lab Studio project, students will work with AP’s technology leaders and Knight Lab to develop a framework for testing and assessing a newsroom's AI readiness. This includes researching best practices, interviewing those news outlets already using AI, and those who wish to. It also includes evaluating and recommending effective product designs for the scorecard to maximize its usage and performance.
Coding skills are not required to participate in this project.
Joe runs Knight Lab’s technology, professional staff and student fellows. Before joining us, Joe was on the Chicago Tribune News Apps team. Also, he hosts a weekly radio show on WNUR-FM – Conference of the Birds.
Jeremy Gilbert is the Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy. Both his work and teaching focus on the content and revenue strategies of existing and emerging media companies. He explores the intersection of technology and media, examining how new tools and techniques will affect the creation, consumption and distribution of media.
What does a news organization need to become AI-enabled? Staff with coding skills? A budget for vendors? A data management system? Training?
How important is each category?
Is there a single dominant path to enabling a newsroom’s AI capabilities? Or are there different archetypes based on characteristics of the newsroom? How does a TV station’s needs differ from a chain-owned digital operation versus a small, local nonprofit news outlet?
Are there important differences between preparing to use AI for investigations or other journalistic practices vs using it for business/customer ends?
When is it practical for newsrooms to build their own AI tools, and when does it make more sense to buy access to existing ones?
Weeks 1-2: Meet with AP project leads and review their preliminary research and planning; begin reading background material; begin scheduling and conducting interviews with news outlets.
Weeks 3-4: Continue with interviews. Adapt questions and interview subject list based on initial findings. Review progress with AP project leads. Begin drafting scorecard documentation.
Weeks 5-6: Finalize scorecard draft and develop testing plan. Begin scheduling and conducting tests of the scorecard.
Weeks 7-8: Continue testing and iterative development of the scorecard.
Weeks 9-10: Finish testing and produce final report/documentation.
By the end of the quarter, students will have produced the first real prototype of a usable scorecard, working from materials provided by AP and in conjunction with AP program leaders. They will have tested the effectiveness of the scorecard with a pilot cohort of news companies. They will be prepared to present their findings to a group of stakeholders that include AP as well as other initiative participants.