Here’s how Microsoft is working with journalists to create the newsrooms of the future with AI

By Noreen Gillespie, Microsoft

What will the newsroom of the future look like?

Today, Microsoft is launching several collaborations with news organizations (including The GroundTruth Project) to adopt generative AI. In a year where billions of people will vote in democratic elections worldwide, journalism is critical to creating healthy information ecosystems, and it is our mission, working with the industry, to ensure that newsrooms can innovate to serve this year and in the future.

Through these new programs, we are helping these organizations identify and refine the procedures and policies to use AI responsibly in newsgathering and business practices, helping train a new generation of reporters on best uses of AI and identify ways AI can help create efficient business practices and help build sustainable newsrooms for generations to come.

  • The GroundTruth Project, which sends local journalists into newsrooms around the world through its Report for America and Report for the World programs, will add an AI track of work for its corps members through the AI in Local News initiative with the goal of helping make reporting and newsrooms themselves more efficient and sustainable for the future.
  • Semafor will work with us to harness AI tools to assist journalists in their research, source discovery, translation, and more with Semafor Signals, helping journalists provide a diverse array of credible local, national, and global sources to their audience.
  • The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will invite experienced journalists to a tuition-free program to explore ways to incorporate generative AI into their work and newsrooms in a three-month hybrid and highly interactive program. The AI Journalism Lab will be run by Nikita Roy, a data scientist, entrepreneur, and host of the podcast Newsroom Robots, which explores AI applications in journalism.
  • The Online News Association will embark on a year of AI programming that aims to inform, educate, and convene journalists to discuss AI solutions and policies, and scale best practices across the industry. The programming will include lab sessions to test tools, practical training, and a monthly gathering of innovators to share experiences.
  • Nota, a startup dedicated to putting high-quality AI tools into newsrooms to help improve newsroom operations, has expanded to more than a 100 newsrooms with support from Microsoft. Its suite of tools are helping newsrooms reach new audiences, expand social media presence and better tailor content to audience information needs. Nota will soon release a new tool called PROOF, an assistive recommendation widget that will give real-time tips to journalists and editors about how to better reach audiences with their content through readability, SEO analysis, link integrity, and more.

These collaborators are established industry groups, leading academics, local news champions, and global newsrooms who are seeking to educate, experiment, lead, and scale AI solutions that support the industry. Each organization will have access to Microsoft experts, technology, and support this year, and has committed to sharing the results of their projects with the wider industry to teach, inspire, and innovate the way news will be produced in the future.

“We know that AI creates both challenges and opportunities for local news,” said Kevin Grant, co-founder and chief development officer at The GroundTruth Project. “With so many of our partners interested but not sure where to start, we look forward to partnering with Microsoft to provide support and guidance for ethical implementation of AI strategies.”

Working directly with newsrooms, universities, journalists, and industry groups, we will help these organizations use AI to grow audiences, streamline time-consuming tasks in the newsroom, and build sustainable business operations. Our goal is to support thriving, sustainable newsrooms with the technology they need to perform the essential function of informing the world.

These projects build on Microsoft’s existing commitment to sustainable journalism, and pledges to reduce risk, restore trust, and rebuild capacity in news ecosystems through the Democracy Forward program.

Local, national, and global news organizations depend on being able to innovate responsibly with emerging technology to stay competitive. The survival of fact-based news is inextricably linked to healthy democracies, thriving communities, and civic participation. Journalism has an essential function in fighting against information operations and threats to democracy.

Central to all of these commitments is journalists themselves.

Healthy news organizations do not exist without journalists who know their communities and topics, have deep relationships with leaders in government and civic life, and understand how to reach their communities. This work is challenging – and our goal is to find ways to support journalists in this mission, not replace them. By working with these organizations, we hope to shed light on the promise that the newsroom of the future can hold.

— Noreen Gillespie is the journalism director of Microsoft’s Democracy Forward initiative. This article originally appeared on the Microsoft On The Issues blog.