THIS POST MARKS THE PUBLIC LAUNCH of journalismAI.com. We track advances in artificial intelligence and what they mean for journalism.
Part of this site began on my living room floor in the 1960s. I’d sit cross-legged and transfixed by a black and white image on a cathode-ray tube in a large box. Humans were leaving the earth for space and I could watch it on television, live. Thirty years later, I would use a modem to dial a secret number, hear odd sounds, and soon after I could leave, not for space, but to explore the whole world, without budging from my chair. Then the connections got faster, the pictures were more plentiful (including video), and when the wires disappeared, the possibilities changed again. To three years ago, as a news department strategist, I started reading about algorithms that could understand speech as well as humans and others that could accurately identify faces. It seemed another cycle was underway.
The impact on journalism of live TV, the internet, and mobile never had a specific beginning. Each slowly became a part of our lives, one development at a time, until ‘all of a sudden’ things were radically different. The last time, the extent of the change became known as ‘the crisis’, as if precipitated by an event. Yet the makings had been in the works for years. Today, the same tell-tale signs are here with AI.
This site is here so journalists everywhere can have a head start on the next disruption. It offers an independent look at the capabilities, limitations, and influences of AI as they apply to journalism — part what to look for, part ‘look at this.’
No doubt years from now, someone will look back at how AI influenced journalism. Perhaps they’ll remark how the AI change was evolutionary rather than revolutionary — as it had been with TV, the internet, and mobile. Except with greater consequences. I hope this helps along the way.
Friends contributed invaluable ideas, guidance, and support over the past six months as this site took shape. My sincere thanks to each one of them. It’s here!
Andrew Cochran is a producer and writer who’s worked in media for 40+ years. He began as a local news reporter and most recently was head of news strategy for a national public broadcaster.