Nebraska Journalism Trust Receives Grant to Explore AI Applications in Local News

The Nebraska Journalism Trust — SPN’s parent organization — is one of 13 outlets selected by the American Journalism Project (AJP) for a pilot program to experiment with applying artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance local journalism. The pilot program is facilitated in partnership with OpenAI.

AJP + OpenAI

The Nebraska Journalism Trust — SPN’s parent organization — is one of 13 outlets selected by the American Journalism Project (AJP) for a pilot program to experiment with applying artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance local journalism. The pilot program is facilitated in partnership with OpenAI, the company behind the development of ChatGPT.

In July 2023, OpenAI pledged $5M to the American Journalism Project towards the expansion of AJP’s initiatives. APJ is a venture philanthropy dedicated to rebuilding and sustaining local news across the United States. AJP is a funder of the Nebraska Journalism Trust.

This collaborative effort seeks to foster communication between the local news industry and OpenAI while working towards the development of instrumental tools for local news organizations. The initiative aims to strategically employ emerging technologies, including AI, to foster more accessible, high-quality and affordable journalism in the public interest.

AJP and its portfolio of local news organizations, including the Nebraska Journalism Trust, are using funds from OpenAI to experiment with the application of AI in several ways:

  • Establishing a Product and AI Studio: The studio aims to provide expert coaching to AJP portfolio organizations, building their capacity as they delve into the optimal utilization of AI tools in the local news sector. It will foster collaboration and establish a feedback loop with external partners like OpenAI and vendors focused on AI applications that support high-quality journalism while hindering the spread of misinformation. The studio is facilitating the creation of a learning community within the AJP portfolio. This community will serve as a platform to document, share best practices and impart lessons learned as experiments progress. The Nebraska Journalism Trust, including SPN, is part of this learning community.
  • Initiating Pilot Investments: AJP has awarded direct grants to 13 organizations within its portfolio, enabling them to delve into the possibilities of harnessing AI capabilities. These selected grantees, including the Nebraska Journalism Trust, will embark on pilot programs and experiments involving a variety of AI applications. The outcomes of this work will not only benefit their respective organizations, but will also serve as exemplary models for the broader local news industry.
  • OpenAI’s API Credits Contribution: Alongside a $5M funding commitment, OpenAI will also provide AJP and its portfolio organizations with API credits of up to $5M. This allocation allows for the flexibility to construct and employ tools utilizing OpenAI’s emerging technology according to a variety of preferences and needs.

The Product & AI Studio kicked off with a series of pilot investments, with direct grants allocated to 13 AJP portfolio organizations. These organizations, including Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), Cityside, Civic News Company, CT Mirror, inewsource, The Marshall Project, Montana Free Press, Outlier Media, the Nebraska Journalism Trust, Open Campus, Sahan Journal, Spotlight PA, and THE CITY, were awarded one- to two-year grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

These grants will empower the organizations to experiment with various AI applications, paving the way to explore innovative ways to utilize AI’s capabilities. The diverse projects supported by this cohort will enable grantees to test AI in addressing challenges, fulfilling their missions and serving their communities. AJP aims to guide grantees in understanding the potential benefits and risks of AI, fostering thoughtful application and ensuring active participation in shaping the conversation about the true opportunity of AI in local journalism.

“We proudly support the American Journalism Project’s mission to strengthen our democracy by rebuilding the country’s local news sector. This collaboration underscores our mission and  belief that AI should benefit everyone and be used as a tool to enhance work,” said Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI in a press release. “We look forward to working with AJP and its grantees, creating a valuable feedback loop and exploring ways AI technology can bolster the work of local journalism.”

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