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September 7, 2023

Bringing Chat GPT to the newsroom: Register for free online course on generative AI and journalism

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is thrilled to announce the launch of its newest free online course “How to Use ChatGPT and Other Generative AI Tools in Your Newsrooms.

This massive open online course (MOOC) will put aside the hype around AI and get down to the basic principles of how the technology works, how it might function in newsrooms and the ethical implications to consider when using it. 

The course will be offered simultaneously in English, Spanish and Portuguese, thanks to support from the Knight Foundation. Click here for a syllabus and detailed registration instructions!

How to use ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in your newsroom

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The MOOC will be taught by expert instructors Aimee Rinehart, senior product manager of AI strategy for the Associated Press’ groundbreaking Local News AI initiative, and Sil Hamilton, a machine learning engineer and esteemed AI researcher-in-residence at the pioneering journalism organization Hacks/Hackers. Joining them as assistant instructors will be Mexican journalist Mariana Alvarado for the course in Spanish, and Brazilian journalist Pedro Burgos for the version in Portuguese.

“Generative AI is here to stay and will only improve and expand – it’s a good idea to get in now and learn as it develops,” Rinehart said. “There are countless ways in which generative AI can help journalists: from transcription, sorting disparate data, producing newsletters and scheduling social media. Generative AI tools can really help to scale what a journalist covers and the reach of that coverage.” 

From Sept. 25 to Oct. 22, 2023, instructors will guide students through the types of AI that can be leveraged across news operations, how to implement and work with this technology, and how the next few years might unfold for the technology and industry. 

Participants can expect to walk away “understanding how the tech can contribute meaningfully to their workflow—and where it still has room to grow a little bit,” Hamilton said. “I guarantee AI can help you, today.”

The course is designed for flexibility, allowing participants to log in at their convenience and complete activities when they choose during the four-week course period. There are also recommended weekly deadlines to complete course activities so participants don’t fall behind.

Although our MOOCs are asynchronous, meaning there is no mandatory live instruction, we value interactive learning. To facilitate this, we will host live office hours with the instructors. Attending our live office hours is optional, but highly encouraged. They will be recorded to ensure those who are unable to attend can access them later. 

The material is organized into four modules. Each module will cover a different topic through videos lectures and guest interviews, presentations, readings, optional live office hours and discussion forums.

  • The introductory module (available immediately after registration) will cover the buzz around AI and why it matters in the news world, exploring its potential as well as its limitations.
  • Module 1 is about grasping the basics of AI and understanding Large Language Models (LLMs), what they can do, the debates they spark, and how newsrooms big and small can make the most of them. 
  • Module 2 explores the history of AI, traveling back over 70 years to its origins, as well as explaining how AI generates text and its exciting leap into working with different media formats. 
  • Module 3 covers the major AI companies today and where they’re headed, along with getting into the basics of the ethics regarding AI.Plus, it will cover the possible warning signs in AI advertising. 
  • Lastly, Module 4 reviews how AI fits into newsgathering, production, distribution, and the business side of things, as well as the ethical considerations for procurement and use. The course closes with a discussion about our role in shaping the future of journalism with AI

Adding to their lessons, the instructors will be joined by several special guests for brief conversations:

  • Uli Köppen, head of AI + Automation Lab and co-lead of BR Data at German Public Broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk; 
  • Meredith Broussard, data journalist and associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University; 
  • Ted Benson, Ph. D. in computer science from MIT and founder & CEO of Steamship, a start-up specializing in building and scaling AI agents; 
  • Nick Diakopoulos, associate professor in Communication Studies and Computer Science at Northwestern University and director of the Computational Journalism Lab (CJL); 
  • Dalia Hashim, AI and Media Integrity Program Lead at Partnership on AI; and 
  • Ernest Kung, AI product manager for The Associated Press.

Participants will also “learn what tools are available in other countries and which ones are not to understand that while we’re a global world connected through technology, sometimes that doesn’t hit every corner for either government laws or technology company preferences,” Rinehart said. 

The [journalism] industry has a duty to pay attention to these tools, not only because they can reduce writing burdens on journalists and free up time to investigate, but also because the industry has something to contribute to this new tech: journalists are in a unique position to improve the technology for the better. This means turning the spotlight on this tech.” Hamilton said. “Journalists are in the business of writing about the world, and computers are now about 90% of the way there, up from 5% just a few years ago. The technology is developing quickly, and it’s important to stay on top of it.” 

As such, this course is for those who want to learn more about this emerging technology and experiment for personal use or across a news operation. It’s open to reporters, editors, product teams, publishers, advertising, marketing, HR departments and anyone else interested in the impact of AI on journalism.

Upon completing “How to Use ChatGPT and Other Generative AI Tools in Your Newsrooms,” participants will become conversant on the topic of AI and news, be able to put into use tools from simple process automation to basic GPT functions and develop a plan for their news operations to consider, and will be able to procure and maintain tools with automation and AI. 

Participants who meet all the course requirements are eligible for a certificate of completion from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to their participation in the online course. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate.

The Knight Center charges a $30 (thirty U.S. dollars) fee to issue the certificate of participation in this free online course. 

Rinehart and Hamilton participated last month in a webinar panelists organized by the Knight Center and moderated by Marc Lavallee, director of technology product and strategy for the journalism program at Knight Foundation. The video recording on the webinar in available on YouTube, in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

Don’t miss this chance to explore the uses and impact of AI in journalism with industry experts. Register now for free for the online course “How to Use ChatGPT and Other Generative AI Tools in Your Newsrooms.