A new $5+ million partnership aims to explore ways the development of artificial intelligence (AI) can support a thriving, innovative local news field, and ensure local news organizations shape the future of this emerging technology.
WASHINGTON — July 18, 2023 — The American Journalism Project (AJP), the leading venture philanthropy working to rebuild local news, today announced a new partnership with OpenAI, the AI research and deployment company behind ChatGPT, to explore ways in which the development of artificial intelligence (AI) can support a thriving, innovative local news field.
OpenAI is committing $5 million to the American Journalism Project to support the expansion of AJP’s work and up to $5 million in OpenAI API credits to help its grantee organizations assess and deploy emerging AI technologies within their organizations. The collaboration aims to establish lines of dialogue between the local news industry and OpenAI, and to develop tools that could assist local news organizations.
“To ensure local journalism remains an essential pillar of our democracy, we need to be smart about the potential powers and pitfalls of new technology,” said Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project. “In these early days of generative AI, we have the opportunity to ensure that local news organizations, and their communities, are involved in shaping its implications. With this partnership, we aim to promote ways for AI to enhance — rather than imperil — journalism.”
There are significant opportunities for journalism organizations to use AI: it can facilitate deeper analysis of public data and information; strengthen and personalize user experience; and develop new formats for delivering information. At the same time, AI poses important challenges to developers, journalists and society, including the potential growth and spread of misinformation and complex questions surrounding bias, privacy, and copyright.
Through this partnership, AJP aims to build the support structure for community-driven local news organizations to expand their capacities through AI. The partnership will also support AJP’s efforts to rebuild local news and create healthier information ecosystems at local levels to counter mis- and-disinformation.
“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. “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.”
AJP and its portfolio of local news organizations will use funds from OpenAI to experiment with the application of artificial intelligence in several ways:
- Creating a technology and AI studio: AJP will assemble a team that will assess the applications of AI within the local news sector. The studio will give AJP portfolio organizations expert coaching, add capacity as they explore how to best leverage AI tools, and will foster collaboration and a feedback loop with external partners like OpenAI and vendors working on AI’s applications that support high-quality journalism and impede the spread of misinformation. As part of this work, the studio will organize a learning community across the AJP portfolio to document and share best practices, guidelines, and lessons as experiments unfold.
- Making pilot investments: AJP will distribute direct grants to approximately ten of its portfolio organizations to help them explore opportunities to utilize AI’s capabilities. These grantees will pilot and experiment with numerous AI applications; their work will serve as examples for the entire local news field about ways to best use AI-powered tools.
- API credits from OpenAI: In addition to $5 million in funding, OpenAI will also contribute up to $5 million in API credits to AJP and its portfolio organizations, who may choose to build and use tools utilizing the technology.
The American Journalism Project is the leading venture philanthropy working to address the market-failure in local news. It is establishing and advancing a new generation of nonprofit local news organizations across the country. Encouraging the adoption of new technology, to enhance journalism in the public interest, has been a core component of AJP’s venture support. To date, AJP has raised $139 million from local and national funders to address the local news crisis, and has backed 41 nonprofit local news organizations across the country.
Founded in 2019, AJP is built on the evidence that robust journalism is an essential component of healthy democracy. Local news ensures that the public remains informed and engaged. The marked decline of local news, in the era of the internet, has had measurable consequences on civic life, weakening the power of residents to hold community, business, and government leaders accountable, and to connect with their neighbors on matters of mutual concern.
Founded in 2015, OpenAI is a research and deployment company dedicated to ensuring that general-purpose artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity. The company is governed by a nonprofit and its original charter today.
About the American Journalism Project
The American Journalism Project is a venture philanthropy dedicated to local news. We believe in civic journalism as a public good and are reimagining its future by building a model to finance and sustain the local news our democracy requires. We make grants to local nonprofit news organizations to build their revenue and business operations, partner with communities to launch new organizations, and mentor leaders as they grow and sustain their newsrooms. To learn more about the American Journalism Project, visit our website.