Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung (IFKW)




Towards responsible AI in local journalism

The VolkswagenStiftung is funding an international and interdisciplinary research project on AI in local journalism led by Prof. Dr. Neil Thurman and Dr. Bartosz Wilczek.


A major challenge facing journalism today lies in the collapse of local news provision. This is having serious consequences for local communities and, more broadly, for democratic societies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications for various activities along the news value chain can offer opportunities for local media to better cope with the economic and societal challenges they face.

However, AI applications in local journalism should be also responsible, i.e., they should not only increase the economic efficiency of local media but also contribute to local media’s democratic role in society by adhering to professional values and ethical standards.

Against this background, a new international and interdisciplinary project led by LMU Munich’s Prof. Dr. Neil Thurman and Dr. Bartosz Wilczek will pursue four main objectives:

• First, in collaboration with local newspaper organizations in Germany, it will conduct Design Thinking projects to develop and evaluate prototypes of responsible AI applications.

• Second, it will investigate the innovation processes during the Design Thinking projects to analyze intra-organizational conditions thatfacilitate or constrain responsible AI.

• Third, it will conduct internationally comparative studies to investigate inter-organizational (i.e., AI ecosystems) and societal (i.e., media funding and media governance) conditions that facilitate or constrain responsible AI.

• Fourth, based on the findings of the project and in collaboration with international, national and regional industry partners, it will develop and disseminate best practices for responsible AI in local journalism.

In addition to Prof. Dr. Neil Thurman and Dr. Bartosz Wilczek, the international and interdisciplinary research team consists of: Prof. Dr. Mario Haim from LMU Munich, Germany; Prof. Dr. Natali Helberger from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Prof. Dr. Antske Fokkens and Prof. Dr. Wouter van Atteveldt from the VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands; Prof. Dr. Helle Sjøvaag from the University of Stavanger, Norway.

The VolkswagenStiftung is supporting the research project for three years via its “Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future” research initiative.

Prof. Dr. Neil Thurman and Dr. Bartosz Wilczek talk more about the research project in the following interview: