Event roundup: Highlights from the JournalismAI Festival 2020

17.12.2020 · By Camilla Allen

Here are our key takeaways from a week-long celebration of the most exciting developments at the intersection of journalism and AI.

Properly understood and responsibly deployed, artificial intelligence (AI) can continue to add to journalism’s value and its power.” – Charlie Beckett, Director of JournalismAI and POLIS, LSE

On 7th-11th December, London School of Economics journalism think-tank POLIS, teamed up with the Google News Initiative to deliver a series of top-level talks and conversations to discuss the exciting role AI-powered technologies can play in the future of media organisations.

We heard from expert speakers across the globe on groundbreaking topics such as how artificial intelligence (AI) is:

  • Putting the untapped potential of news media archives in the hands of journalists. (Read more on this here.)
  • Helping newsrooms understand, identify, and mitigate biases
  • Forming an integral part of the newsmaking process
  • Opening up different career pathways in the newsroom
  • Driving positive change for the future of journalism

If you missed the talks, all event sessions are available online for on-demand viewing. You can access the sessions on YouTube.

A number of fascinating themes emerged from the festival, but these are our favourite highlights from a busy week.

Day 1

On Monday, we heard from the POLIS’ Collab team mentors helping news organisations imagine and test new AI-powered ideas, mitigate newsroom biases, and gamify user engagement. 

Who was speaking?

Key takeaways 

The importance of collaboration when developing new technologies in the drive towards a better future for journalism. You can read more about the work the Collab teams are doing or watch the full session here.

“We need to be able to show people back in the newsroom that automation and AI approaches work and produce tangible results so that people who don’t know much about it will start to believe.” – Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern University

Day 2

The second day of the festival saw a fantastic panel of leading newsroom managers take to the stage to explain how AI and journalism tools are becoming an integral part of the newsmaking process.

Who was speaking?

Key takeaways  

A swath of interesting insights emerged, including the way in which artificial intelligence is cutting out repetitive work for journalists, allowing them to focus on high-value tasks, and how newsrooms are adapting to streamline workflows. 

“How do you release your journalists from having to do the mundane tasks so that they can focus on the high-value stuff? That’s really the sweet spot of AI at the moment.” Cait O’Riordan, Financial Times

Artificial intelligence and editorial workflow tools are supporting journalists in numerous ways. Read five key ways AI is helping journalism

Day 3

Day three of the festival saw BBC News Labs talk through their Graphical Storytelling project – an inspiring use of AI and editorial workflow tools to create new formats for digital news storytelling from existing text in a matter of clicks.

The festival then deep-dived into the emerging opportunities AI holds for putting the power of media archives in the hands of journalists.

Who was speaking?

Key takeaways

This session highlighted the new and groundbreaking opportunity for AI-powered editorial archive software to leverage existing archive material to enrich new articles and support the story-writing process – a truly exciting opportunity for media organisations of all sizes. 

Didn’t attend the festival? Don’t worry, you can listen to the talk here.

“AI tools can be used by journalists for research and interlinking to relate articles to earlier content in newsroom archives.” – Kristoffer Hecquet, Altinget

Want to discover fresh perspectives from trusted sources as you write? Find out how LOYAL can help. 

Day 4

On Thursday, the penultimate day of the festival, we met the innovators showing how AI expertise is opening up new and evolving career paths within the newsroom.

Who was speaking?

Key takeaway

The attitude shared by all speakers was a clear one artificial intelligence shouldn’t be feared, but rather embraced by journalists looking to produce the best journalism they possibly can.

Find out why JournalismAI festival organiser Charlie Beckett doesn’t fear AI in content creation and what he had to say when we caught up him.

Day 5

Rounding off a busy week of inspiring virtual seminars, the final discussion set sights a little wider: what difference will AI will make to the future of journalism?

Who was speaking?

Key takeaways

As Alexandra Borchardt says, “AI is still at the beginning of its potential for newsrooms” and as we test and deploy new innovative technology within media organisations, we’ll move towards a better future for journalism together. 

Read our article on artificial intelligence’s impact on the future of storytelling, and the publishers paving the way to better reporting with the best tools for journalists here

Find out how LOYAL’s journalism research tools can help you research faster with quick access to insights relevant to your article as you write in real-times, all without leaving your creative space.

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