Building tools for journalism and civic information by prototyping with open source AI

Updates from the open source AI hackathon More than 100 journalists, coders, and product designers spent a weekend together in New York earlier in April to participate in the first of a series of hackathons convened designed to push the limits of the technology for journalism. To kick off the series, hackathon participants spent three days exploring how AI might enable new, personalized experiences for journalism audiences, how to train large language models to increase accuracy and trust, and how to design platforms that ensure a human is always kept in the loop.

Highlights from AI x Journalism House at SXSW 2024

What will an AI-influenced information ecosystem look like in five years? What will an AI-influenced information ecosystem look like in five years, and how can journalism as a discipline better work with large language models and other powerful technologies? What role should journalism play in a world of hyper-personalized content? To discuss these questions and more, Hacks/Hackers hosted an AI x Journalism House in the heart of downtown Austin alongside SXSW, Austin’s annual mega-festival devoted to the convergence of technology, film and music.

Paul Cheung Joins Hacks/Hackers as Advisor

Paul Cheung will join Hacks/Hackers as a strategic advisor. Cheung is a mission-driving executive dedicated to creating a healthier information ecosystem. His career, extending over two decades, showcases a commitment to leading digital innovation within the media sector, including pioneering work in AI, VR/AR, combating misinformation and launching digital initiatives. Previously, Cheung led The Center for Public Integrity as CEO to increase diversity in the newsroom, pioneered new local-national partnership models, and empowered investigations that spurred tangible change.

Open-source AI hackathon for journalists: Catalyzing new forms of journalism and civic discourse.

Join Hacks/Hackers and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University for an in-person open-source AI hackathon, starting at 5pm ET on Friday, April 5th. The hackathon is sponsored by Hugging Face and Codingscape. Participants in the hackathon will spend a weekend building with open-source AI for experiments relating to journalism and civic information. ​We invite people with little-to-no technical background, as well as those who might be expert in Machine Learning and AI.

Prediction for journalism in 2024 — More open source AI

We have a chance to try again and learn from the tortured history between technology companies and journalism. It is truly magical to speak to a machine using the same language you’d use to talk to a human. And that initial awe at the technology commonly known as generative AI caught a lot of us in the hype over artificial intelligence this past year. We also learned that while the large language models (LLMs) that power generative AI are great at stringing words together, they have a tendency to BS their way through it.

How can newsrooms benefit from ChatGPT and other generative AI tools? We asked over 10,600 journalists to find out.

Over the past year, the rise of AI capable of generating text and images in the last year has provoked doubt and inspired optimism. The journalists who attended our course were no exception. Journalists are feeling overwhelmed by AI – torn between pushing their bosses to experiment with the new technology so they don’t fall behind, but at the same time afraid the automation enabled by AI will eliminate their own jobs.

Take the AP’s new survey on AI

The Associated Press is conducting an anonymous survey on how the news industry approaches AI, with an emphasis on professional and ethical practices around generative AI, like ChatGPT and Midjourney. The survey will be open through the month and take about 25-30 minutes to complete. Results will be published next year, but have published a report on results from its 2021 survey on AI in local newsrooms. Worth a Read:

Apply for a microgrant on credibility projects

Hacks/Hackers is offering micro-grants of up to $10,000 to individuals and organizations who want to research or test new tech tools that can advance global credibility in journalism. The ideal projects will address misinformation issues, involve innovative uses of technology and help working journalists. Applicants must be willing to share their results publicly. Hacks/Hackers is hoping to select 2-4 projects. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2024, but early applications are encouraged.

Call for Proposals - Improving Information Credibility With Tech

Since 2010, Hacks/Hackers has supported projects that bring journalism and technology closer together. Our events and grants have reached tens of thousands of working journalists and technologists around the world. In 2023, we’re focused on two key priorities: working with news organizations around the rise of generative AI and the continued challenges of global misinformation. We have a small amount of funding that we’d like to distribute in micro-grants, to individuals and organizations who want to research or test the ways new tech tools can advance global credibility.

Honoring Philip Meyer, data journalism pioneer

Philip Meyer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who pioneered incorporating data analysis into investigative journalism, died at the age of 93. The New York Times and Detroit Free Press, where he worked when he won a Pulitzer Prize, both wrote obituaries to honor his legacy. He wrote a book titled “Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods” in 1973, which has had multiple updated editions since. His legacy is also honored in IRE’s Philip Meyer Journalism Award, started in 2005, that “recognizes excellent journalism done using social science research methods.