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JournalismAI Fellowship Programme

 
Using AI to make journalism better. Together.

The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme is a free online initiative that brings together journalists and technologists from media organisations worldwide to explore innovative solutions to improve journalism via the use of AI technologies. 

The programme is organised by the JournalismAI team at Polis – the journalism think-tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science – and supported by the Google News Initiative

Artificial intelligence is not the solution to all the issues faced by modern journalism but, when used responsibly, it can provide media organisations with a powerful set of tools to make journalism more inclusive and impactful. 

20 fellows will be selected to join the 2022 cohort and work together over the course of six months (June to December) towards building AI-powered solutions that enhance reporting

[ Applications for the 2022 cohort are now closed. ]

Since collaboration is at the heart of all JournalismAI activities, our Fellowship Programme includes a collaborative component too – on a double level:

  • Rather than individual fellows, we invite pairs of colleagues from the same organisation to apply (one person with an editorial/strategic role and the other one with a technical role).
  • Then, after the initial application, each pair will have to find another pair from a different organisation to form a team of four that will work on the same project.

We invite applications from journalists and technologists working in media organisations anywhere in the world (although outside GMT–6 and GMT+8, it will be logistically challenging to participate fully). To take part in the programme, you need to have some experience working on products and/or stories that involve the use of AI technologies.  

We’ve designed the programme so that fellows keep their jobs while they dedicate 6-8 hours a week to the Fellowship. Teams will be given financial support for project expenses, as well as mentorship and coaching from experts in the JournalismAI community. 

The aim of the programme is to provide a safe space where fellows can explore and experiment with new ideas, away from the constraints of their day-to-day work. Through project-based work, the programme aims to advance fellows’ AI expertise, benefiting their own professional development and enabling their organisations to accelerate AI adoption and implementation. 

The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme is the latest evolution of the collaborative experiments hosted by JournalismAI in 2021 and 2020.

Please refer to the FAQs below for additional details on the structure of the programme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

1. How does the programme work?

The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme runs for six months, from June to December 2022. We’ve designed the programme so that fellows keep their jobs while they dedicate 6-8 hours a week to the Fellowship. The programme is fully virtual. 

Ten pairs of colleagues – one person with an editorial/strategic role and the other one with a technical role – will be selected to take part in the programme. Through a guided match-making process, each pair of fellows will team up with another pair from a different organisation to form a team of four. For more information on the application, match-making, and selection processes, check FAQ #6. 

Teams will choose what project they want to work on during the Fellowship. The projects must focus on building AI-powered solutions that enhance the reporting capabilities of their newsrooms, innovating content and formats to better inform their audiences.

The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme is participant-driven. Each team will organise and develop its work independently during the six months, with guidance from the JournalismAI team and regular check-ins with the rest of the cohort.

Each team of four will be provided with a coach/mentor, identified in coordination with the JournalismAI team, and will get access to JournalismAI’s global network of experts, researchers, and innovators in the field of AI-journalism. A budget of around $ 6,000 will also be available to each team as a fund to be used for project-related expenses.

In the first two weeks – starting on 8 June, 2022 – the JournalismAI team will facilitate a series of kick-off meetings to help the fellows get to know each other, review the structure of the Fellowship Programme, share their AI-related expertise, explore use cases, and meet participants of the 2020 and 2021 Collab Challenges. 

Over the six months, the teams will be guided through phases of definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing. The goal is to work together towards building AI-powered solutions that enhance reporting and storytelling. 

At the end of the programme, participants will present their work – and what they learned from it – at the third edition of the JournalismAI Festival.

2. What kind of projects are you looking for?

We are looking for project proposals that focus on building AI-powered solutions that enhance the reporting capabilities of their newsrooms, innovating content and formats to better inform their audiences. We are not interested in projects focused on purely business solutions.  

This is not a reporting grant to develop a single investigation. Projects should be aimed at prototyping a tool or a methodology that can have a systemic impact on the news production – for example by making the reporting of a specific beat more accessible or impactful. 

The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme aims to produce innovative solutions that can inspire and help others in the industry who may want to pursue similar projects. For this reason, we look favourably at project proposals that can scale and we encourage participants to share not only their final product but especially their learnings, methodologies, obstacles encountered along the way, and ethical considerations. 

Inspiration can be found among the projects developed in the JournalismAI Collab Challenges, including Science in Context, the Political Misogynistic Discourse Monitor, the AIJO Project, and the Guide to using AI and satellite imagery for storytelling. 

3. What will I get out of it?

The aim of the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme is to provide a safe space where fellows can explore and experiment with new ideas, away from the constraints of their day-to-day work. 

Through project-based work, the programme aims to advance fellows’ AI expertise, benefiting their own professional development and enabling their organisations to accelerate AI adoption and implementation.  

By the end of the programme participants will have:

  • Improved their understanding of the potential offered to journalism by AI technologies
  • Learned new methods and skills to experiment and prototype new ideas
  • Developed their thinking about the role of technology in journalism
  • Experienced the power of international collaboration
  • Built trust between editorial and technical teams in their own organisation
  • Gained new perspectives from a multicultural, interdisciplinary environment
  • Learned about a set of AI-powered tools available for news organisations
  • Developed an international network of like-minded news innovators
  • Built a prototype of their AI-powered solution
  • Shared their learnings with the global JournalismAI community

Here’s what participants of the 2021 Collab Challenges – which the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme evolved from – had to say about their experience: 

❝ It was a great experience working and developing solutions for tricky problems with a group of people who had different backgrounds and newsroom experience. The programme is hugely beneficial not only for small, regional outlets but also for big, established newsrooms. 

Anna Vissens, Lead Data Scientist, The Guardian 

❝ The JournalismAI Collab Challenges really showed me how forward-thinking and welcoming to change journalists can be. Everyone was excited to learn something new, share their experiences candidly and help strengthen our collective understanding of leveraging technology for better journalism. It was great to participate! 

Shreya Vaidyanathan, Product Manager, Bloomberg News
 

4. Who is the programme for?

We invite applications from pairs of journalists and technologists working in media organisations who have experience working on products and/or stories that involve the use of AI technologies. 

The programme is open to media organisations of all types and sizes. The programme is fully virtual so applicants can be based anywhere in the world (although outside GMT–6 and GMT+8, it will be logistically challenging to participate fully) but fluency in English is required. 

The programme is not for journalists who work on their own: only pairs of colleagues working for a media organisation are eligible to apply.

This is not a training programme for journalists without experience of working with AI technologies. If you are a beginner in this field, you should consider applying for our AI Academy for Small Newsrooms. Applications for the Academy will open in May 2022.

5. What commitment do you ask from participants?

First and foremost, we ask participants to embrace the collaborative nature of the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme, which is what distinguishes this programme from other fellowships. “You get what you give” is the unofficial motto. 

If selected, you must commit to fully participate in the online sessions, to share your expertise with the other fellows, and to approach the experience with enthusiasm, curiosity, and respect for your fellow participants. 

You should plan to spend an average of 6-8 hours per week on the Fellowship Programme, including the independent work with your team, and the regular cohort activities. Participation in the kick-off activities of the first two weeks – from 6 June to 17 June, 2022 – is mandatory. 

During the application process, you will be required to provide a letter of commitment from the management of your organisation.

The programme ends with participants presenting their projects at the third edition of our JournalismAI Festival.

6. How do I apply?

Let’s start by saying this is not your usual application process. The collaborative component of the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme starts already here. Here’s how it works: 

Use this link to express your interest in participating in the programme. It’s a short application form, but note that you already have to fill it in with a colleague you plan to pair up with for the Fellowship. (One joint submission, not two.)

Apply as soon as possible because applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. The sooner you apply, the more time you will have for the match-making process (more on this soon), which will directly impact your chances of getting selected. This initial application phase closes on Thursday, 28 April, at 11:59 PM GMT. 

In the form, you will be asked to share an idea for a project you’d like to work on during the programme. This is at the core of the match-making process, as you will have to find another pair of candidates with similar goals to team up with, and jointly submit your final Fellowship application by Tuesday, 17 May, at 11:59 PM GMT. (The link to submit final applications will be provided to candidates who pass the initial screening.)

Keep in mind that each pair of candidates will pitch a project idea so to form a team, you have three options:

  • Find another pair of candidates with a similar project idea and merge them together in your final application;
  • Find another pair of candidates that like your project idea enough to discard theirs and agree to join you;
  • Browse other candidates’ project ideas and find one that you like enough to discard your own idea and join them.

If you pass the first screening through the initial application, you will be added to a Slack channel where you can meet other candidates and find who to partner with. Your initial application, including your project idea, will be visible to all other candidates – and you will be able to browse through everyone else’s submission. 

The five best projects submitted by 17 May (each one from a team of four) will be selected by the JournalismAI team to take part in the Fellowship Programme. 

Between the launch of the programme on 7 April and the final application deadline on 17 May, there will be a call every week to support candidates through the application process: 

  • On Thursday 14 April and on Tuesday 19 April at 12:00 PM GMT, the call will be open to anyone who is considering applying and has any questions about the programme. To receive the access link, send an email to lakshmi@journalismai.info with subject line “JournalismAI Fellowship Programme” and indicate which of the two calls you’d like to join.
  • On Tuesdays 26 April, 3 May, and 10 May, at 12:00 PM GMT, the call will be only for candidates who pass the initial screening and want to pitch their project idea to other candidates. (This is a complement to the conversations you will develop with other candidates in the Slack channel, not a replacement for that.)

Use this link to submit your initial application and start your journey towards a JournalismAI Fellowship. 

7. Are there any costs for participation?

Thanks to the support of the Google News Initiative, the programme is entirely free for selected participants.

8. If we need to purchase tools or services for our project, will there be any financial support?

Yes. We have allocated around $ 6,000 per project to support research and development. 

The money is not a stipend or compensation (you are not expected to leave your job to participate in the Fellowship Programme). It is a fund to be used solely for project expenses. 

Teams are encouraged to use the money for costs directly related to the creation and presentation of their projects, or for any cost aimed at facilitating the collaboration between fellows in the same team. 

9. Is this the first edition of the programme?

Yes, if selected you will be part of the inaugural cohort of the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme! But this is our third year helping journalists and technologists work together on AI-powered projects. The current programme was born as an evolution of the JournalismAI Collab Challenges of 2021 and 2020. 

Over two years, the Collab Challenges allowed almost 40 media organisations from across the world to explore together how AI-powered solutions can improve journalism.

Some of the projects developed by participants include Science in Context, the Political Misogynistic Discourse Monitor, the AIJO Project, and the Guide to using AI and satellite imagery for storytelling

10. Where can I find out more about JournalismAI?

Glad you asked! JournalismAI is a collaboration between Polis – the journalism think-tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science – and the Google News Initiative.  Our mission is to empower news organisations to use artificial intelligence responsibly. 

The design of the JournalismAI activities is based on the findings of the global survey we conducted 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, read our recent announcement on the Polis blog. You should sign up for our newsletter, follow our updates via Polis on Twitter, and join our Telegram group. 

11. How can I get in touch if I have any questions?

If you have any questions about the JournalismAI Fellowship Programme, please contact our Fellowship Lead, Lakshmi Sivadas, at lakshmi@journalismai.info.

 

 

 FELLOWSHIP TIMELINE

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The JournalismAI Fellowship Programme is organised by the JournalismAI team at Polis – the journalism think-tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science – and it's supported by the Google News Initiative.

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