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 had its first edition in September and October 2021, with 20 participants from small news organisations (fewer than 50 employees) in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa). 

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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.



How do I apply to join the Academy? 

Applications for the 2021 cohort closed on August 1st, 2021. Sign up for the JournalismAI newsletter to not miss out on the new rounds of applications in 2022. If you have any questions, send us an email at


What are the dates, modules, and instructors?  

The 2021 edition of the Academy took place between September and October 2021. The programme run through six weeks, with each week having a different focus:


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.

Nick Diakopoulos, Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Computer Science at Northwestern University, opened the programme, teaching the module "Key Concepts and Definitions". He was joined by Meredith Broussard, Associate Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University, who opened the discussion session of the same module.


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.

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


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. 

Anna Vissens, Lead Data Scientist at The Guardian, co-hosted the module on "Data and Technology" with Al Johri, formerly a Senior Data Scientist at The Washington Post.


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.

Uli Köppen leads the AI+Automation Lab at Bayerischer Rundfunk and taught the module on "People and Culture". She was joined by Elite Truong, Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Washington Post, who opened the discussion session of the same module.


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.

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


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.

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


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 includes:

   ▪︎ 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.


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.


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.