Research plan

The aim of this project is to produce novel and holistic insights into the development and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) into news work, specifically focusing on how AI related processes transform and reshape the norms, ethics, and practices of journalism. The project strives to provide insight on the actors involved in teams deploying editorial AI, as well as providing a non-deterministic, normative, and critical understanding of the technology in newsrooms.

The study is divided into two work packages which aim to examine AI in journalism practice from two different perspectives: the editorial uses of journalistic AI and the normative futures of journalistic AI.

The main research questions are:

Work Package 1:

i) What editorial practices and processes are the AI technologies intended, or already deployed, to aid?

ii) What actors are involved in developing journalistic AI and what roles and relations characterize their work?

iii) What ethical issues and concerns around journalistic norms arise in the development and adoption processes and what issues are absent?

Work Package 2:

i) How do journalists and other AI-related journalistic actors anticipate the normative development and use of journalistic AI in the medium-term future?

ii) How do these projections manifest in the work and practices under development of AI teams in newsrooms?

iii) How can journalistic AI be developed and re-imagined so that it would better fulfill journalistic norms, and in particular the norm of public service?

The project builds on the social construction of technology (SCOT). The approach to SCOT in this project is complemented by relational sociology and the sociology of expectations. The social construction of AI technologies is approached through constitutive journalistic norms. The conceptions and future projections on AI of the examined actors are analyzed and reflected against these journalistic norms.

To answer the research questions, a set of qualitative, mixed methods will be used: qualitative theme interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, and document analysis. The empirical focus is on technologically advanced, selected Finnish and Swedish legacy newsrooms and their news professionals and other AI-related actors. All the newsrooms studied are in the forefront of the development work and use of journalistic AI.

Research team / Tutkijat

Jaana Hujanen, Professor

University of Helsinki (HY), Swedish School of Social Sciences (SSKH)

PI Professor Jaana Hujanen is responsible for coordinating the research. She will participate in planning and organizing the interviews and ethnographic data, the analysis of the data as well as writing the articles and research report. She has a wide experience of media and journalism research, as well as leading and coordinating research projects.

Contact: jaana.hujanen@helsinki.fi

 

Leo Leppänen, Postdoctoral Researcher

University of Helsinki

Postdoctoral researcher Leo Leppänen works at The Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki, where he studies the generation of natural language as well as online teaching. His doctoral dissertation (2023) studied the automatic generation of reports in natural language (e.g. English or Finnish) using computers, from a journalistic perspective. Additionally, he studies teaching computer sciences, online teaching as well as learning analytics. In this project Leppänen brings knowledge of AI to the research team, specifically methods that produce natural language, meaning the automation of news production.

Contact: leo.leppanen@helsinki.fi

 

Carl-Gustav Lindén, Professor

Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Bergen (UiB)

Photo by: Harry Lunabba

Carl-Gustav Lindén is a professor of data journalism at the University of Bergen as well as a Doctor of Journalism Development at the Swedish School of Social Sciences. He will function as an advisor in this project. Lindén has nearly a decade of experience in researching AI-development in media and has led the development of new tools used in journalism, such as document analysis and automatically generated text. UiB is an internationally leading research environment for AI and media development.

Contact: carl-gustav.linden@uib.no

 

Juho Ruotsalainen, Doctoral Researcher

University of Helsinki, Swedish School of Social Sciences, Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC)

Photo by: Vesa-Matti Väärä.

Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, Juho Ruotsalainen integrates journalism studies, sociology, and futures studies in his research. In the current project, Ruotsalainen examines journalists’ futures knowledge concerning AI in journalism. Futures knowledge encompasses journalists views on the threats, possibilities, and potential applications of AI within journalism. Futures knowledge is an essential dimension of journalistic AI, since it shapes the ways in which AI is developed and implemented in journalistic and organizational routines.

Contact: juho.ruotsalainen@utu.fi

 

Stefanie Sirén-Heikel, Doctoral Researcher

University of Helsinki

Doctoral researcher Stefanie Sirén-Heikel is completing a PhD in Media and Communication Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, where she studies the impact of automation and AI on journalism and newswork. Her research has been published in journals such as Nordic Journal of Media Studies and Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. Sirén-Heikel approaches technological changes in journalism as a sociomaterial practice, focusing on the interplay between work, technology, and values.

Contact: stefanie.siren-heikel@helsinki.fi