Technology Lead, Product & AI Studio

The American Journalism Project is seeking a Technology Lead with a background in software and data engineering to join its new Product & AI Studio to drive technology strategy and development. 

The Technology Lead will be our point person for understanding and helping our grantee nonprofit news organizations to act upon existing and emerging technologies — specifically generative AI — by researching, designing, developing, and deploying solutions.

Primarily by working with AJP’s portfolio of nonprofit news grantees (but also for the benefit of the broader journalism field), this role will enable local news organizations of varying sizes and models to grow their audience, build revenue streams and deliver their important journalism by providing guidance and hands-on support, grounded in extensive technical expertise. They will collaborate with the leaders and teams of AJP grantees, coaching on pragmatic approaches to utilizing technology, developing solutions based on direct experience with AI, and sharing lessons learned on how software and data, especially machine learning, can enable newsrooms to achieve their missions and serve their communities. 

This is a unique opportunity to not only influence the direction of how AI is utilized in journalism, but to join a growing, national movement to rebuild local news in communities across the country in a way that better serves the public, while being sustainable and independent. The American Journalism Project has raised over $130 million for the cause so far, and aims to catalyze enough investment in nonprofit local news to create a $2 billion sector by 2040, full of thriving, equitable, public service-oriented newsrooms that increase civic engagement and make communities work better for their residents.

Who we are

AJP is an entrepreneurial organization that’s passionate about journalism, civic engagement, and how local news plays a unique role in shaping our democracy. We help build and grow sustainable local news organizations all over the country — through financial investment, venture support, growth services, and movement building — that are governed by, sustained by, and look like the public they serve. Since 2019, the American Journalism Project has committed more than $48M of investment in 41 nonprofit news organizations across the United States, and mobilized an additional $58 million from local philanthropy to launch market-specific local news initiatives. Learn about our grantees.

Our venture philanthropy is catalyzing the nonprofit field by building a portfolio of multi-stage organizations. We invest growth capital in existing organizations, we are seeding new organizations in partnership with philanthropy, and we have incubated talent-led startups pre-launch. You can read a more detailed overview of our current program areas in this recent blog post by our CEO.

Our team is deeply connected to our mission and supportive of each other’s goals and overall well-being. We aim to be an organization where everyone feels heard, respected, and valued. We are an entirely remote, distributed team and strive to maintain a healthy, fun, and productive workplace, working alongside smart, energetic colleagues who enjoy one another and the work. Meet our full team.

Our values

  • Local First: We know that local journalism must serve and be led by local communities. We make a practice of listening to, and making decisions with – not for – those communities, and connecting them to find strength in each other. 
  • Bold Leadership: We understand the severe economic challenge facing local news and thus democracy, and we embrace a sense of possibility with courage, urgency, and perseverance.
  • Constant Learning: We recognize the unknown in front of us. Therefore, we operate with humility and a commitment to continuous improvement and collaboration.
  • Commitment to Equity: We commit to creating a better, more diverse, and more inclusive news media that advances human and civil rights. We actively fight against injustice and racism, and that starts with doing the work ourselves.
  • Integrity: We accept the responsibility of earning trust every day. We operate with honesty, transparency, dignity, and respect, and without allegiance to party, ideology, profit, or power.

Your team

You will join a new small, cross-functional team — the Product & AI Studio, responsible for supporting AJP’s grantee portfolio — and be focused on providing strategic and practical technology expertise, including hands-on development. You will report to the Head of the Product & AI Studio, and work closely with a growing team of dedicated staff and partner consultants who together are responsible for launching exceptional nonprofit local news startup organizations and supporting an existing set of thriving local nonprofit news organizations across the country.

The position

This role is a new one, necessary now to help local nonprofit news organizations thoughtfully navigate how to use existing technology and emerging technologies most effectively to serve their audiences and build successful, sustainable products. 

People from a variety of technology, data and engineering backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and will receive training on the unconventional mix of skills involved in this job. Successful candidates will be passionate about the role local news plays in communities and care deeply about its future; ideally they will have experience working in or with media organizations, be familiar with the unique challenges and opportunities of effectively utilizing technology around newsrooms, and be eager to learn about the latest and most innovative practices in local journalism and digital media. 

Successful candidates will be excited to learn and understand how emerging technologies, especially AI, can and should be applied not only to existing methods of news organizations, but how it can transform the existing model. Our goal is to help local nonprofit newsrooms be a step ahead, not just following the direction and pace of incumbent technology platforms and large news institutions.

In this role you will have the following responsibilities:

  • Portfolio Technology Support: Contribute to a scalable, efficient consultative operation that can support as many newsrooms as possible with coaching and guidance. Help organizations understand not only the problems they have to solve, but the opportunities for transformation. Be a technology, data, and AI expertise partner to grantee leadership and/or their staff technologists.
  • Development: When necessary take a hands-on approach to helping launch and develop new products by researching tools and frameworks, prototyping solutions, writing or reviewing code, documenting software, and being focused on shipping products.
  • Technology + AI Expertise: Stay up-to-date on the latest advances on the AI landscape, across all the major platforms – proprietary and open source. Gain an intimate, execution-level understanding of best practices around technology and AI at journalism organizations across the country and incorporate those ideas into an AJP playbook. Participate in code convenings and contribute to open source software projects.
  • Community Engagement: Help share lessons from AJP organizations with the broader journalism industry. Contribute to or advocate for supporting open source projects and develop relationships with technologists and researchers with similar missions. Advance the ball on understanding how to best incorporate generative AI into local nonprofit journalism responsibly and with the most impact.

Background and skills

We know not all strong candidates will have all the skills we list. That’s OK. Research shows that women and people of color are less likely to apply for a position if they don’t meet every skill listed. At the American Journalism Project we are committed to creating a better, more diverse, and more inclusive news ecosystem, and that starts with doing the work ourselves. So if your past experience doesn’t align perfectly, but you know this is the role for you – please tell us! And remember, we provide training in the areas you need to grow.

An ideal candidate will have…

  • An active curiosity and hands-on knowledge of the capabilities, potential, risks, and considerations around machine learning and generative AI, specifically the applications for media and journalism.
  • Demonstrated track record of architecting, implementing, and developing modern internet software, including data systems, ideally within the news industry.
  • Recent experience in either engineering management or architecture and as an individual contributor.
  • Familiarity with the typical media technology stack and experience-informed opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of different tools and platforms.
  • Depth of experience and demonstrated mastery of programming in relevant languages like Java, Go, Python or Ruby.
  • Significant background in systems design and software architecture.
  • Familiarity with generative AI platforms like OpenAI’s GPT or Google’s Vertex AI.
  • Comfort utilizing cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, etc.
  • An understanding of building, training, and deploying machine learning models.
  • Engagement within the open source community as a contributor, maintainer, or participant in code convenings and documentation projects.
  • Experience working as a consultant for multiple clients or with multiple stakeholders within an organization.
  • An understanding of the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and newsrooms, combined with a commitment to making sure those principles are represented when making decisions about the application and impact of technology and data.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and relationship building skills.

This role is a fit if you are… 

  • Energized by new technologies, you’re someone who wants to start playing with a new framework or API and building a prototype.
  • You have experimented with generative AI or have contributed to the development and release of an AI-driven product.
  • Driven to understand both the potential benefits and harms of new technologies, eager to be thoughtful when putting them to use and willing to advocate for equitable outcomes from their applications.
  • Excited about gaining experience growing sustainable news organizations, while putting your technology skills and experience to impactful use.
  • Prefer working on small, focused teams and comfortable as the only developer in the group, willing to wear different hats in order to help move a project along.
  • Highly empathetic; you have an affinity for collaborative work, love for mentoring and inspiring others, and doing whatever it takes to get them to successful outcomes.
  • Motivated by an environment where honest and constructive feedback is given and received to support each other’s growth and professional development.
  • Intellectually curious, a strategic thinker, and an innovative problem-solver, including a proven ability to create and manage organizational change.
  • A person with strong personal responsibility and accountability, results-oriented, adaptable, and skilled at situational management (including being able to manage up, laterally, and down).
  • A person with passion for making the country a better, more equitable, and just place for its residents by helping to build a new local news ecosystem across the U.S.

Compensation & benefits

Our total compensation package is competitive in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and we are committed to supporting our team with what they need to show up every day, ready to bolster the local press our democracy deserves.

We benchmark our salaries against similar organizations, and use a scale that considers job complexity and magnitude of responsibility to determine role levels and corresponding base salaries, as well as offer regular opportunities for salary increases. The salary range for this position is $162,727 – $179,000. Read about our benefits here.

What to expect in the hiring process

Our approach to hiring is to create a consistent and transparent process for all candidates. We hope to fill this role as soon as possible, though the hiring process can typically take from a few weeks to several months. We will do our best to communicate with you about timing expectations throughout the process.

Candidates who advance to later rounds of this process can expect multiple interviews with members of our hiring committee. Semi-finalists will be asked to complete a written assignment designed to help us understand your thinking and approach to the role, and you will be offered an optional prep session to ask any questions that will help you put your best foot forward in this process. We aim to truly get to know you, to help you fully understand the role you’re applying for, and to get to know your prospective team.

Please submit an application through our portal. Download the full job description here. If you have any questions please feel free to email careers@theajp.org with Technology Lead” in the subject line.

Information session

On December 18, 2023, American Journalism Project held an information session for candidates interested in the role. You can watch the recording from the session here.

The American Journalism Project is dedicated to equal employment opportunities for all applicants and employees. The American Journalism Project encourages people of all races, colors, national origins, ancestries, creeds, religions, genders, ages, disabilities, veteran status, sexual orientations, and marital statuses to apply.