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Credit: Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) gets thrown around a lot but it often means different things to different people. For newsrooms, the most useful definition could go something like "things that a computer does that normally require a human journalist."

We use AI every day. If you ever tried to google something, searched your inbox to find an old email or used the autocorrect feature in your text editor, all these tasks are powered by algorithms to save you the manual work. But when it comes to taking this one step further and using technology to perform some of the journalistic tasks, many newsrooms adopt the stress response: flight, fight or freeze.

"Newsrooms face a number of challenges when it comes to AI adoption," says Mattia Peretti who manages the JournalismAI project at Polis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

"The list is long, but I would divide the challenges into four main categories: access to skills and talent, financial resources, the need for a mature data and technology infrastructure, and cultural resistance. And the complication is that these challenges often inform each other, so it's not easy to take one and solve it in a vacuum."

To help your organisation explore new opportunities, the JournalismAI team created a Starter Pack that covers just about every question your newsroom may have about this technology. Here are the main sections.

How do news organisations use AI technologies?

This is the most important question since there is no point in adopting new technology just for the sake of it. Case studies cover automated news production from publishers like Associated Press, Newsday, BBC News or Washington Post; using AI for investigative journalism; improving the use of content in your archives; understanding what your audiences want; fact-checking; optimising engagement and subscriptions; and many other topics.

Browse through these stories to see some very practical ways journalists can use computers to outsource some of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks in their newsrooms so they can focus on what they do best: telling stories.

How are newsrooms introducing AI in their workflows?

The first step is the hardest and yes, sometimes it feels like the big and well-funded media organisations just get engineers who take care of all the tech implementation and it is all easy. But this is more about changing the mindset than about the technology. We need to first see and understand the opportunities that automation can bring and then work backwards to see how technology can help us get there.

How is AI changing newsroom roles and careers?

First things first, artificial intelligence is not stealing journalists jobs. It rather does tasks you do not have time or money to do so you can do your other tasks better.

While some work becomes automated, the need for new skills is emerging. Are you wondering where your career could go if your newsroom adopted some automation tools? Read some great advice and case studies from The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Reuters or Schibsted & KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

What about the ethical concerns of using AI?

And there are plenty. It is not an easy topic to disentangle but an AI team at the German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk published a set of AI Ethics Guidelines you can find in this section, as well as an ethical checklist from a former standards editor at Associated Press.

Are there collaboration opportunities around AI?

Every new tech brings new opportunities and AI is no different. The JournalismAI project brings together 20+ news organisations and shares lessons learned from collaborative projects they run for two years across five continents. Read or watch their stories.

Can small and local newsrooms adopt AI?

Being small and under-resourced makes innovation harder, there is no way around it. Local newsrooms often lack the skills, time and money to get started with new tech. But there are simple projects and improvements you can explore to better serve your audience. Look this section up for tools, examples and inspiration.

I want to build an AI strategy for my own organisation

So you are an AI enthusiast and want to take it upon yourself to illuminate your colleagues. It is your lucky day - check out tips on creating an AI strategy for your newsroom and there is even a link to work on your strategy in an open-source space if you feel brave.

I have colleagues who know nothing about AI. Where do I send them first?

There is only so much you can do in one day so the Starter Pack provides links to useful resources that you can share with your team and also use them to learn a thing or two yourself. If you want to dive deeper, there are book recommendations and examples of AI journalism from around the world.

Happy innovating.

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