Extra, extra, read all about it!: NYU Tandon School of Engineering supports innovators using AI to boost local journalism

NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s NYC Media Lab unveiled this year’s cohort for the AI & Local News Challenge, a program in which tech innovators leverage artificial intelligence in projects that enhance local news organizations and the journalism they produce. 

More than 20 teams representing startups, news organizations and universities applied to join this year’s Challenge. Beginning in April, the six teams selected dedicated 12 weeks to work with mentors, develop their projects, and create prototypes. Teams receive grants of $7,500 to support their work.

The AI & Local News Challenge launched in 2021 thanks to an investment from Knight Foundation. The goal is to aid entrepreneurs and providers in creating AI-powered solutions for small and local news organizations. 

“This initiative is a testament to NYC Media Lab’s commitment to journalism and support for local news in particular,” said Sayar Lonial, interim executive director of NYC Media Lab, which was founded in 2010 by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “I am delighted to continue this project, which advances our mission to drive innovation and job growth in media and technology.”

Since 2005, the United States has lost more than a fourth of its newspapers (2,500) and is on track to lose a third by 2025, according to research from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. More than a fifth of the nation’s citizens live in news deserts — with very limited access to local news — or in communities at risk of becoming news deserts.  Despite this fact, Americans continue to trust local news sources more than national ones, Knight Foundation research finds, although trust in both has declined since at least 2016. 

“Technologists have a crucial role to play in ensuring local news adapts to the constantly evolving digital media landscape, particularly now when it can be harder than ever for people to find reliable news about their communities in a sea of information,” said Matt MacVey, Community & Project Lead for AI & Local News at NYC Media Lab. 

In June, The NYC Media Lab will host a Demo Day in which the six teams will present their projects:

  • Bangla AI team is developing an AI-based web platform that can help Bengali ethnic media journalists access important information in Bengali rather than English.
  • Chequeado team will continue developing its Chequeabot platform, which uses AI to speed up the process of fact-checking in Spanish, to support Factchequeado's work in the U.S. to improve Latino communities' access to high-quality news. 
  • Graham Media Group team is building conversation prompts that leverage natural language processing and ChatGPT to direct and improve community comments on news articles. 
  • Newsroom AI team, whose members are from Cornell University, is continuing to build a copiloting platform that accelerates news article generation in journalists' own style, making journalists more productive and efficient while maintaining the quality and accuracy of their work. 
  • WNYC team is investigating ways to use speech-to-text models, natural language processing and generative AI for real-time captioning and transcription of WNYC broadcasts.
  • NOBL Media team will expand its ad tech product with a new segment that allows programmatic advertisers to reach publishers' content in service of smaller audiences that can be targeted by geography or demography.  

The work of NYC Media Lab brings to life NYU Tandon’s commitment to be an active collaborator, contributor and participant in New York City’s civic life. The NYC Media Lab's goals are to generate research and development, knowledge transfer, and talent across all of the city in partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and partners.

About the NYC Media Lab 

The NYC Media Lab connects media and technology companies with both NYU Tandon and industry affiliates to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development. Our interdisciplinary community of innovators from industry and academia allows our network to gain valuable insights, explore the potential of emerging technology, and address the challenges and opportunities created by the rapidly evolving digital media landscape. Learn more at engineering.nyu.edu/nyc-media-lab.


About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering is home to a community of renowned faculty and undergraduate and graduate students united in a mission to understand and create technology that powers cities, enables worldwide communication, fights climate change, and builds healthier, safer, and more equitable real and digital worlds. The school’s culture centers on encouraging rigorous, interdisciplinary collaboration and research; fostering inclusivity, entrepreneurial thinking, and diverse perspectives; and creating innovative and accessible pathways for lifelong learning in STEM, from K12 to executive education and new advances in digital learning.

NYU Tandon dates back to 1854, the founding year of both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. Those institutions evolved independently before merging in 2014 to create what is now known as NYU Tandon. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, NYU Tandon is a vital part of NYU's New York campus and unparalleled global network. For more information, visit engineering.nyu.edu.