AI Academy for Small Newsrooms

A 6-week programme to help small newsrooms leverage the power of artificial intelligence

This FREE online programme offers a deep-dive into the potential of artificial intelligence to journalists and media professionals from small newsrooms. It is designed by the JournalismAI team at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and powered by the Google News Initiative.

The Academy is a 6-week online programme that starts in September 2021 and, in its first pilot edition, it is designed for 20 participants from small news organisations (fewer than 50 employees) in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa). 

In line with JournalismAI's mission to inform media organisations about the potential offered by AI-powered technologies and to foster debate about the ethical, editorial, and social impact of AI on journalism, the Academy aims to support small newsrooms that want to learn how AI can be used to support their journalism.

The programme combines a series of masterclasses given by experts working at the intersection of journalism and artificial intelligence with opportunities for discussion among participants. In addition to that, participants will be guided through the development of shared resources that can support their organisations’ AI-adoption journey during and after the programme.

The Academy is FREE for selected participants, thanks to the support of the Google News Initiative, which has been powering JournalismAI since 2019. The programme was inspired by the Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms, an initiative of the Newmark J-School at CUNY, News Catalyst, and the Google News Initiative.



What are the dates and modules?  

The Academy will take place between September and October 2021. The programme will last six weeks, with each week having a different focus:

Module #1 (16-17 Sept) → Key Concepts and Definitions

What do we mean exactly with "artificial intelligence"? What are the key concepts and definitions to understand AI and how it works? And what about all the other AI-related buzzwords like "machine learning", "neural networks", "NLP/NLG", etc.? In this first session, we'll clear the deck and tackle all the questions you never dared asking about AI.

Module #2 (23-24 Sept) → Applications of AI in Journalism 

Artificial intelligence is already used by journalists and news organisations in a variety of different ways. This module will offer an overview of the most common use cases and analyse some specific examples of AI used by newsrooms to find and produce the news.

Module #3 (30 Sept - 1 Oct) → Data & Technology

AI doesn't work in a vacuum. You need data and an appropriate tech infrastructure. In this module, we'll look at the requirements needed to apply AI effectively. 

Module #4 (7-8 Oct) → People & Culture

What skills do the people in your newsroom need to leverage the power of AI? And how do you spread AI literacy in the newsroom? In this module, we'll look at the steps you need to take to put your people in the best position to adopt AI.

Module #5 (14-15 Oct) → Risks & Concerns

AI is a powerful technology but there are also risks associated with it. In this module we'll look at what can go wrong with AI and what safety nets we can and should design to mitigate the risks.

Module #6 (21-22 Oct) → From Ideation to Implementation

At this point, you have all the important concepts and examples of applications; and you have prepared your newsroom to adopt AI. Now, where to start? In this last module, we'll sketch together a step-by-step plan to guide your AI processes.


How do I apply to join the Academy? 

Applications opened on July 6th, 2021 and should be submitted, in English, via this link. The deadline to submit your application is at 11:59pm GMT on August 1st, 2021. Participants will be informed of the results of the selection process by August 16th. If you have any questions, send us an email at


What kind of candidates are you looking for?

The Academy is designed for journalists and media professionals working in small newsrooms (fewer than 50 employees), based in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa – GMT 0 to +4), and who are fluent in English. 

The ideal candidate already has a basic understanding of the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and works in a news organisation that has started exploring how to use these new technologies. Candidates with different newsroom titles will be considered but, in the selection process, priority will be given to candidates that demonstrate the ability to influence the strategic adoption of AI in their news organisation to tackle journalistic challenges. 

No coding skills are required to attend the Academy, nor are there any other technical requirements, other than a stable WiFi connection to participate in the live activities. We encourage journalists and media professionals from all backgrounds to apply.

Who is the Academy not for?

The Academy is not for freelancers – you need to be part of a newsroom to benefit from the programme. The Academy is not for journalists based outside the EMEA region. Finally, the Academy is not for journalists who are not fluent in English. 

Why only EMEA?

To be effective at providing the best possible experience to the participants, the programme needs to consider the limitations posed by time zones and simplify the scheduling of the activities. This is a pilot programme and we hope to extend it to other regions in 2022.


What commitment are you asking from participants?

In the application process, we ask for a letter of commitment from the management of the organisation that a candidate will represent at the Academy. If selected, you will be asked to sign a letter of personal commitment, in which you commit to attending all sessions and actively participate in all course activities. 

The Academy is made up of 6 modules over 6 weeks and we estimate the time-commitment to be about 4 hours a week. Each module of the course will include:

   ▪︎ Live presentation on Thursday (90 minutes)

   ▪︎ Live discussion on Friday (90 minutes)

   ▪︎ Assignment to complete individually before the following Thursday (~60 minutes) 

The timing of the sessions will be confirmed during the selection process.


What is the expected outcome of the programme? 

Participants will leave the Academy with a practical understanding of the opportunities and challenges offered by AI technologies, examples of successful implementation, and a co-created action plan to guide the development of AI projects in their news organisations.


Who are the instructors? 

Nick Diakopoulos, Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Computer Science at Northwestern University, will open the programme, teaching the module "Key Concepts and Definitions".

About Nick

Nick Diakopoulos is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Computer Science (by courtesy) at Northwestern University where he directs the Computational Journalism Lab and is Director of Graduate Studies for the Technology and Social Behavior PhD program. His research focuses on computational journalism, including aspects of automation and algorithms in news production, algorithmic accountability and transparency, and social media in news contexts.

He is author of the award-winning book, Automating the News: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Media, published by Harvard University Press in 2019. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science, with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction, from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Lisa Gibbs (Director of News Partnerships and AI News Lead) and Jim Kennedy (SVP for Strategy and Enterprise Development) of the Associated Press will teach the module "Applications of AI in journalism" together with Jeremy Gilbert, Knight Professor in Digital Media Strategy at Northwestern University.

About Lisa

Lisa Gibbs is the Director of News Partnerships at The Associated Press and the Newsroom Lead on AP’s automation and artificial intelligence strategy group.

As AP’s global business editor, she oversaw AP’s use of automation software to produce roughly 4,000 corporate earnings stories per quarter. Her automation role focuses primarily on text automation and newsgathering tools such as social listening.

Her current partnerships role also involves guiding AP’s collaborations with foundations, other news organizations and emerging tech companies.

About Jim

Jim Kennedy is senior vice president responsible for strategy and corporate development at The Associated Press. He has been leading strategic planning for the world’s largest news organization since returning to AP in 2001 from The Wall Street Journal, where he was executive director of product planning for

In an earlier stint with AP, Kennedy managed business news and financial services and later founded the company's first digital unit, called Multimedia Services. While AP business news editor, he served as a board member and later president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the national association of financial journalists.

He is a founding member of the Online News Association, a board member of Digital Content Next, an advisor to the New York City Media Lab and a board member for several startups in the AP venture portfolio. A native of Watertown, N.Y., Kennedy is a graduate of Amherst College.

About Jeremy

Jeremy Gilbert is the Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy at Northwestern University. Both his work and teaching focus on the content and revenue strategies of existing and emerging media companies. He explores the intersection of technology and media, examining how new tools and techniques will affect the creation, consumption and distribution of media.

Prior to assuming the Knight Chair, Jeremy was The Washington Post's Director of Strategic Initiatives where he led an award-winning team that transformed The Post into an international, digital-first news organization. The team collaborated closely with the Post’s engineering, product design, graphics, audience, analytics and revenue teams by identifying, creating and executing unique digital products and storytelling methods for them.


Anna Vissens, Lead Data Scientist at The Guardian, will lead the module on "Data and Technology".

About Anna

Anna joined the Data & Insights team at the UK-based Guardian News and Media in 2019 where she is Lead Data Scientist.

Previously she had spent 15 years at the BBC where in 2007 she received an award for best BBC World Service producer in recognition of success in building new audiences and developing an effective social media strategy. In 2015, Anna joined the BBC's audience engagement and data team. She has also expanded her skills by coding in Python and using data science modelling to gain better understanding of audiences.

She holds a masters degree in physics from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.


Uli Köppen leads the AI+Automation Lab at Bayerischer Rundfunk and will be teaching the module on "People and Culture".

About Uli  

Uli leads the AI + Automation Lab at Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) – the public-service radio and television broadcaster of Bavaria, in Germany – and co-leads BR Data, the investigative data journalism team.

Uli was also a 2019 Nieman Fellow at Harvard and MIT, where she focused her studies on journalism automation and algorithmic accountability reporting. She oversees a team of journalists, coders, and designers specialising in investigative data stories, interactive storytelling, and experimentation with new research methods such as bots and machine learning.

She is a founding member of butterland, a group dedicated to slow journalism whose projects include reporting done with victims of Turkey’s clampdown on press freedom. Together with her colleagues, she has won several awards including two CIVIS Media Prizes and a Philip Meyer Award as part of the first non-American team.


Alyssa Zeisler (R&D Chief & Senior Product Manager) and Tess Jeffers (Director of Data Science) of The Wall Street Journal will co-host the module on "Risks and Concerns".

About Alyssa

Alyssa Zeisler is the Research & Development Chief and Product Lead for Newsroom Tools at The Wall Street Journal. She leads a multidisciplinary team of engineers, journalists, and strategists in using technology to improve the storytelling tools and enrich the stories of The Wall Street Journal.

She was previously a Managing Editor at Barron's where she accelerated the nearly 100-year old magazine’s digital transformation, including the integration of print and digital teams, a redesign of, the launch of podcasts and an award-winning newsletter.

At the Financial Times, she was a founding member of the Audience Engagement and Communities teams, ushering in the use of data in the newsroom as well as unprecedented collaboration across the company.


Tess Jeffers is the Director of Data Science for the News Insights team at The Wall Street Journal. Tess leads a team of data scientists, analysts, and engineers responsible for actionable product, content, and audience insights and productionized data science models delivered at scale.

Prior to joining the Journal, Tess was a manager on the data science team at Known, a data-driven media and marketing consulting firm. There she built custom machine learning models and helped Fortune 500 media companies optimize their data strategy initiatives.

Originally from Michigan, Tess holds a master's and PhD in Quantitative and Computational Biology from Princeton University.


Mara Pometti, Lead AI Content Strategist at IBM, will close the programme with the module on "From ideation to implementation".

About Mara

Mara Pometti is IBM’s first-ever AI Strategist. She defines and designs the strategy for AI solutions by revealing overlooked insights hidden in enterprises’ data.

Throughout her journey, she has adopted design as an approach to explore data and craft it into new content returning the vision of a novel AI strategy that illuminates the synergy between the technical implementation of AI solutions and their business value. 

As a polymath sitting at the intersection of AI, data journalism, and business, Mara acts as a translator who bridges these different worlds through new content connecting AI to people by making it explainable and trustworthy.



Where can I find out more about JournalismAI? 

Glad you asked! JournalismAI is a 3-year project created in 2019 by Polis, the journalism think-tank of the London School of Economics and Political Science, with support from the Google News initiative.  

JournalismAI is a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for journalists and media organisations to come together and explore solutions to improve the future of journalism with AI. We are on a mission to inform media organisations about the potential offered by AI-powered technologies and to foster debate about the ethical, editorial, and social impact on AI for journalism.

The design of the JournalismAI activities is based on the findings of the global survey we launched in 2019, which led to the publication of the report “New powers, New responsibilities. A global survey of journalism and artificial intelligence.”

To find out more, you can check out our website, sign up for the monthly newsletter, follow our updates via Polis on Twitter, and join our Telegram group.