The US-headquartered Online News Association has announced a programme to help journalists and newsrooms cope with evolving artificial intelligence.
The group says expanding its programming will drive experimentation, collaboration and business sustainability.
In the new AI in Journalism Initiative, one of five programmes launched with financial support from Microsoft, ONA will connect digital innovators and newsroom leaders with year-round programming to build practical skills, knowledge and the capacity to swiftly harness opportunities presented by the latest shifts in AI. Microsoft will also contribute access to experts, technology and support.
“Amid a firehose of news about declining revenues, mass layoffs, technology fears and uncertainty, understanding AI’s enormous potential is critical for the sustainability of journalism,” says ONA communications director Karolle Rabarison. Key efforts in 2024 include:
-practical training: Multi-part series of virtual and in-person learning sessions examining specific ways AI tools have been incorporated into newsrooms, including applications for audience engagement, headline generation, elections reporting, data journalism and growth strategies. The series begins February 28 with an Introduction to AI Tools.
-AI mini-lab sessions: Energetic, expert-led opportunities to play with a specific AI tool and explore use cases, starting with a prompt-writing session.
-AI innovator collaborative: Monthly small-group gatherings for ONA members who are already experimenting with AI tools. Members will meet online on the second Tuesday of each month and in person at the 2024 Online News Association Conference (ONA24), happening September 18-21 in Atlanta, plus connect through the ONA Slack Community between these events.
-convenings and critical conversations: Driving the discussions that will inform the industry’s use of these technologies. ONA will engage those leading AI efforts in journalism and technology companies, as well as explore key questions on areas such as ethics, copyright, equity and bias.
Journalism director of Microsoft’s Democracy Forward programme Noreen Gillespie says working with ONA enables them to reach journalists at all stages of their AI adoption journeys, and help in exploration, experimentation and innovation.
Microsoft has also announced four other collaborations with news organisations to adopt generative AI.
In one, Semafor will work with Microsoft to harness AI tools to assist journalists in their research, source discovery and translation, while the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY is inviting experienced journalists to a tuition-free programme to explore ways to incorporate generative AI into their work and newsrooms in a three-month hybrid and highly interactive programme.
Additionally the GroundTruth Project – which sends local journalists into newsrooms around the world through its Report for America and Report for the World programmes – will add an AI track of work for its corps members through the AI in Local News initiative.
And Nota, a startup dedicated to putting high-quality AI tools into newsrooms, has expanded to more than 100 newsrooms with support from Microsoft. Nota is to release an assistive recommendation widget called Proof that will give real-time tips to journalists and editors about how to better reach audiences with their content through readability, SEO analysis, link integrity, and more.