Artificial intelligence poses a number of threats and opportunities to the news industry. News outlets such as Bloomberg and The Washington Post have used robots to help produce content, lightening the load for reporters. But some journalists fear robots might replace them. While chatbots can engage with audience members on Facebook to answer subscription questions, they have also helped in the spread of misinformation on Twitter.
To help better understand this technology, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute has invited five innovators to speak during its RJI Innovation Series. The event is the second in the series and brings industry professionals to newsrooms and classrooms at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
The following speakers have been invited for the March 18-19 event:
Jahna Berry, head of content operations at Wired, oversees day-to-day operations, which gives her the opportunity to see how these technologies are used at Wired across the various platforms. She also works with other operations within Wired’s parent company, Conde Nast.
Marc Fischer is the CEO and co-founder of Dogtown Media, a mobile technology studio that specializes in building tech solutions that incorporate emerging technologies of artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive innovation within organizations. Under his stewardship, Dogtown pioneered a first-of-its kind AI chatbot named Shoutout, incorporating natural language processing, for the Google Home and Google Assistant platforms. He was formerly a professor at Santa Monica College, where he taught mobile app design classes.
Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at the Washington Post, has worked with these technologies since 2009, first teaching at Northwestern University. He launched Heliograf, which is the Post’s AI engine that generates “living stories.” Gilbert says these are “stories that dynamically evolve as the data powering them changes.” The Post has also used AI technology to customize user experiences, test headlines and moderate comments, he says.
Nick Monaco is a disinformation analyst at Graphika, a company that tracks conversations around political topics online looking for disinformation and figuring out what types of people are engaging with those messages and whether bots are involved. He has worked at Graphika for the past year, but has been working on researching bots and disinformation since 2015.
Steven Rosenbush is the enterprise technology editor of the Wall Street Journal’s “WSJ Pro” where he leads teams that write about subjects for professionals including artificial intelligence for a business audience. These articles often focus on execution and how to make the technologies work. Rosenbush has been covering technology since working as a telecommunications reporter in the 1990s at USA Today.
A learning opportunity for the speakers, too
The fall 2018 RJI Innovation Series event, which focused on immersive technologies such as virtual reality, was not only a learning opportunity for more than 1,000 MU students and faculty members preparing future journalists, but also the speakers, as well, said Jim Flink, assistant professor at the School of Journalism and event organizer.
In addition to speaking to students at the Missouri School of Journalism, the speakers will be going to classes at the College of Engineering, Trulaske College of Business and MU College of Arts and Science.
“This doesn’t just impact journalism, it impacts other areas like business and engineering, too,” said Flink.
Although this event is not open to the public, RJI staff will attend the sessions and will share insights on the RJI website.