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Innovation with AI is key for successful Science Journalism

At a hands-on training day, American science journalist Jeremy Merrill discussed the benefits of effective use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for science journalists. Reporters learnt how to integrate cutting-edge technologies into their storytelling at the 2019 World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Lausanne.

The FUSE workshop was a practical masterclass for science journalists attending the conference to be equipped with skills on how new technologies can improve their reporting and storytelling.

It was facilitated by Rina Tsubaki, the founder and lead of the Lookout Station, a new initiative by European Forest Institute (EFI) that connects media and science communities around the topic of climate change, with 'digital innovation'.

During the session, it discussed how media — aiming to inform or engage — can end up peppering readers with sensationalism, hype or inaccurate science stories that shape day-to-day lives and how we perceive the value of science. This could be avoided if science journalists update the way they report stories using AI. According to Jeremy Merrill (in the picture), science journalism needs to embrace innovation and understand how machine-learning processes work as a way to get accurate information using these tools. "There is a way science journalists can deal with both regular photographs, text documents and other types of data which are released frequently using these innovative tools," he said. The Fuse Workshop on Artificial Intelligence in Lausanne was the first of its kind of training produced on the sidelines of the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Lausanne. With 25 science journalists taking part, it was demonstrated how tools such as Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to churn out thousands of images and check if they are authentic and use them to illustrate science stories. "But more especially science journalists need to actively use such innovative tools and address any underlying biases in their reporting and in fact-checking," the trainer said.

Currently science journalists are convinced that using AI will assist them in high-value work and as another innovation for newsroom to discredit biased media outlets which are not producing quality content.

Opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of WCSJ2019

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