‘Disruption’ is a key idea for entrepreneurs seeking to forge new business models that capture new markets. Yet, the paradox of disruption is that the rule-breakers have to become systems makers. And the critical difference between sustainable success and failure, for those who create novel strategies, is that they must be flexible enough to change again.

Thomas Tuchel, the former manager of leading football clubs like Mainz05 in Germany and PSG in France is a great example. He’s now been handed the gilded but sometimes poisoned chalice of leading Chelsea FC, a business with a demanding set of targets and…

It has been a year since we published the results of our global survey on what news organisations are doing with and thinking about AI technologies. The big themes that stuck out for me from that research were:

Augmentation: Most use cases were designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the work of human journalists, not to replace them. AI-powered technologies were used to connect content better to the public, rather than to replicate the editorial process.

Knowledge gap: There was a shortage of people skilled in AI technologies and, just as important, a lack of knowledge across news…

We are seeing a reshaping of what it means to have a career in journalism. The rise of the ‘passion economy’, increasing freelancing, more niche publications and more ‘fluid’ or precarious employment are all creating new pathways to working in news media. But is this simply a desperate response to the journalism business crisis and to pandemic upheaval? Or is it an explosion of innovation in reaction to the limits of traditional news organisations? Is it a marginal set of trends or something more fundamental for journalism as an industry and as an ethical, political, social practice?

TL/DR: Don’t believe…

AI and journalism is a very technical issue but we are talking about this technology at a critical historical moment for journalism. I don’t want to over-indulge in hyperbole but in the midst of this pandemic we can see some serious forces coming together that present a remarkable set of challenges to journalism. How can AI help?

[This article is based on a keynote speech by Charlie Beckett, director of the Polis/LSE Journalism AI project, to a conference at Charles University, Prague, ‘Challenges of Journalism — Automated journalism and AI journalism’]

Here in Prague you know all about the economic…

The pandemic is changing journalism and it’s changing how we talk about it. I should have been sitting with dozens of other European media people around a long table in the glorious baroque setting of the orangery in Potsdam Palace outside Berlin, discussing “Shaping the Post-Covid Media Order” as part of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. Instead it was a group Zoom call, of course. Here are my notes for my intervention in the session on “Saving the news? Next Level Journalism”.

Who is going to save journalism? How is it going to happen?

After two decades as a journalist, I…

What is the future of news after Covid-19? How will new technologies such as AI change our journalism? How will forces for social change such as BLM impact on that process?

Polis director Charlie Beckett argues that these are all related trends in this article based on the evidence he gave recently to a UK parliamentary inquiry into the future of journalism.

Last year, Polis conducted a global survey of what newsrooms around the world were doing with AI and machine learning technologies and we are now working with a network of 1000+ digital news media people on creating training and innovation projects. So we are in a great position to see how Covid-19 is impacting on technology-driven innovation. …

The details of the story about Dominic Cummings, (the chief aide to UK Prime Minister) travelling in breach of the government’s coronavirus rules matter because it might have a material impact on people’s behaviour and the attempts to control the disease. As my colleague (and tens of thousands of others) points out:

It also counts politically because it questions the principles and practice of the man leading that effort, the Prime Minister and his most senior aide. …

Another opinion poll question shows low levels of ‘trust’ in British journalists. But this is not the problem you might think it is. In some ways it’s worse.

Sky News’ YouGov poll was part of a much broader survey of trust in UK public figures and on policy issues related to the coronoavirus crisis and the ‘lockdown’ measures. It ranges widely:

“The country has thrown itself into housework, cooking and gardening but fewer than one in three are doing more exercise than usual and fewer than one in 15 say draconian restrictions on lifestyle means having more sex.”

It’s a…

Journalists are under enormous pressure right now. There is a huge public appetite for information and debate and the means to feed it are tougher than ever. The coronavirus story is unprecedented. It is still early days but what can we learn about the challenge to journalism it presents?

Overall, I think journalists are doing heroic work from international to local levels. Clearly, there have been specific mistakes and overall questions about the quality of coverage. But first let’s try to understand the context because it is novel and brutal.

Back in 2011 in the wake of the financial crisis…

AI Invest: new strategies for journalism

How can the news media find investment to support the development of new AI technologies? Our recent global survey of news organisations showed that there are special challenges as well as opportunities for journalism. This presentation by Polis director Charlie Beckett, given at an event at UK VC company Hambro Perks, outlined a strategic approach that can tap into the new AI investment landscape.

My example is from my LSE research on news media and especially my latest project on AI but it resonates wider. …

Charlie Beckett

Journalist, LSE media professor, Polis think-tank director. Writes about journalism, UK & global politics

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