Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung (IFKW)




New Project on AI in Local Journalism

Professor Neil Thurman to lead a VolkswagenStiftung-funded project on the use of AI in local journalism.


The Department's Professor Neil Thurman is to lead a new VolkswagenStiftung-funded project on AI in local journalism, working with colleagues in Leipzig, Amsterdam, and Stavanger (Norway).

AI can be both a blessing and a curse to local journalism. It has the potential to allow journalists to more effectively and efficiently report on local news, and connect with their audiences more interactively. At the same time, large news aggregators and social media companies, with their advanced use of AI, are threatening the business model and vital democratic function of local media.

For AI to be used to improve the quality and sustainability of local reporting, it is essential that the changing preferences and habits of users, the business needs of publishers, and the journalistic norms and values that give news credibility and allow it to perform its democratic role are taken into account. Ultimately the project aims to collaborate with local journalism companies in different countries to develop (semi-)automatic tools to help journalists serve their audiences effectively and efficiently, but without sacrificing diversity and objectivity. The first stage of the project will map aspects of local journalistic process that are amenable to automation using an in-depth case study and propose a value-sensitive AI system for local news use.

There is an opportunity to work on the project, initially for 9 months, starting Autumn 2020. Anyone who is interested should contact Professor Thurman at