Why journalism schools are teaching students artificial intelligence

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School hosted an artificial intelligence and journalism workshop where particpants learned how to create AI-driven text and video stories.

Francesco Marconi
Oct 18, 2017 · 3 min read
AP strategist and Tow Fellow Francesco Marconi introduces students to the principles of “Augmented Journalism”

“The current generation of successful automation technology scales the output of human labor, rather than replacing it entirely,” said Nick Haynes, a data scientist at Automated Insights who helped teach the workshop.

Automated Insights’ Nick Haynes guides students through the editorial process of text automation

“These technologies have much more in common with power tools than sci-fi superhuman robots — in the hands of a skilled user, they act as a force multiplier in the speed, breadth and scale of content that can be produced.”

“Learning AI tools before hitting the newsroom will hopefully put me one step ahead in understanding how to save time on simple tasks and concentrate on more complex ones,” said Cecilia Butini, a Columbia Journalism School student who attended the workshop.

Wibbitz CEO Zohar Dayan presents the principles of video automation

“It was amazing to see a room full of future journalists dive in and start using a brand-new tool that they were just introduced to minutes prior,” said Zohar Dayan, the co-founder and CEO of Wibbitz. “Not only did they create great videos, but we also saw that they really enjoyed the process.”

Text Automation

Wordsmith is Automated Insights’ text automation platform.

Video automation

Wibbitz’ Control Room let’s journalists automatically turn story URLs into videos

“Pulling the veil of complexity back on computer automation allows journalists to not only publish more efficiently; it also augments our ability to report in an increasingly data-saturated and algorithmic world,” said Andrew Calderon, a graduate student at Columbia Journalism School who participated in the workshop.

Tow Center

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Graduate School for Journalism

Francesco Marconi

Written by

R&D Chief at The Wall Street Journal and fellow at Columbia Journalism School. I write about media, storytelling and innovation.

Tow Center

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Graduate School for Journalism