Study Tours

The best way to learn is to talk to those who have been through the experience

New York City & Austin | 9–15 September 2018

Making Room for Artificial Intelligence

Tips, trends, and best practices on AI, voice AI, and machine learning


View full schedule below


The Global Editors Network (GEN) frequently arranges study tours on topics related to media innovation, as the best way to observe the newest phenomena in media and to learn the best practices from both industry giants and up-and-coming startups. 

This year, our 'Making Room for Artificial Intelligence’ Study Tour takes you to the US. In New York, you will meet the top executives of major news agencies and media houses who developed the first AI services for news, either on the content side (voice AI, storytelling, investigative journalism) or on the business side (newsletters, personalisation, monetisation). In Austin, Texas, we will visit the Texas Tribune, a pure online player and a pioneer in the US. We will also attend the Online News Association Conference (ONA18), where we will discover the latest news trends: How will journalists use AI during the reporting process? Which newsroom job positions might AI replace? How can a journalist become AI literate? The ONA18 Conference shouldn’t be missed by news executives who want to follow the latest trends in our industry.

Sunday 9 September

7:00pm Welcome dinner and drinks for participants.

Monday 10 September

9:00-10:15am Reuters

Reginald Chua, Chief Operating Officer; Padraic Cassidy, Editor, Automation and News Technology; Rob Schack, Vice President, Reuters Sports

Reuters is the world’s largest international news provider reaching more than one billion people every day. Their tool Tracer uses cognitive computing and machine learning to allow journalists to find breaking events on Twitter. Tracer assigns these events a newsworthiness and a confidence score so journalists can focus on what is important and true.  

Reginald Chua is Chief Operating Officer at Reuters. He created the award-winning Connected China project and drove the development of social media verification tool, Tracer.

10:30am-12:00pm Wall Street Journal

Francesco Marconi, Research and Development Chief

The Wall Street Journal uses an adaptive paywall method to drive subscriptions. The paywall houses a machine-learning algorithm that measures user activity across over 60 variables and calculates a score to see how many sample articles a reader can access.Francesco Marconi is the Research and Development Chief and Head of the Editorial Lab at the Wall Street Journal. Prior to this, he was Co-Lead for AP's global automation and artificial intelligence strategy.

12:45-2:30pm The Associated Press

Working lunch with Jim Kennedy, Head of Strategy (12:45-1:30pm)

Jim Kennedy is SVP Strategy and Enterprise Development at The Associated Press. Previously, he served as AP’s Director of Strategic Planning and prior to that role he was Executive Director of Product Planning at The Wall Street Journal.

Meeting with Lisa Gibbs, Director of News Partnerships and Newsroom Leader (1:30-2:30pm)

AP uses automation to support its reporting efforts for finance and sports. Thanks to natural language generation, AP can transform raw data into thousands of publishable stories. Their step into automation was fuelled by a desire to create more content, not to reduce staff.

Lisa Gibbs is the Director of News Partnerships at The Associated Press and the Newsroom Lead on AP’s automation and artificial intelligence strategy group.

3:30-4:30pm The New York Times

Kourtney Bitterly, Lead, Research and Development team

The New York Times uses Google software Perspective, a neural network that has been trained to find and flag trolls and hate speech in the paper's online comments sections. In the past, it has also used face recognition software to identify members of Congress. The New York Times is also branching out into voice AI.

5:45-7:30pm Cheddar

Meeting with Jim Roberts, Editor-in-Chief (5:45-6:30pm)

Cheddar, the financial news streaming service aimed at millennials, is preparing to expand internationally and launch a channel on Snapchat Discover after securing a new investment round. Roughly two years after its launch as a self-described “post-cable network,” Cheddar has raised $22 million, according to founder and Chief Executive Jon Steinberg.

Jim Roberts is editor-in-chief of Cheddar, leading its newsroom and editorial coverage. Previously, he was managing director at Mercury, and executive editor and chief content officer at Mashable. He was the assistant managing editor of The New York Times from January 2011 to January 2013.

Dinner & networking at Cheddar with Jim Roberts (6:30-7:30pm)

7:30pm Shuttle back to hotel


Tuesday 11 September

9:00-10:00am BuzzFeed

Gilad Lotan, Chief Data Scientist 

BuzzFeed is a global news network that has branded itself through its innovative use of digital platforms and new technology. For instance, BuzzFeed’s Hidden Spy Project used a machine learning algorithm, ‘Random Forest’, to uncover the flight paths of spy planes over US cities by analysing four months of compiled data.

10:45-11:45am Vigilant

Mike Philips, CEO

Mike Philips, CEO of New York based startup Vigilant, created a platform that enables journalists to break into public data in order to carry out investigative work more easily. The platform is also being heavily used in this year’s midterm elections by a range of advocacy groups and organisations, including, NextGen, Everytown, Emily’s List, the DLCC, and others.

12:15-2:00pm Automated Insights  

Working lunch with Sam Terrell, Business Development and Sales Director

Automated Insights created Wordsmith, a natural language generation platform that creates human-sounding narratives from data. AP and Yahoo! are among their clients.

2:30-4:00pm Chartbeat

John Saroff, CEO

Chartbeat, the content intelligence platform for publishers, tracks what people are reading on a second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel basis on each site, article and page. The Chartbeat for Publishing (CBP) solution empowers editorial teams to maximize every news moment with real time editorial analytics, homepage optimization, headline testing, platform referral insights, audience engagement metrics and historical reporting. As the analytics partner for more than 50,000 leading media sites around the globe, Chartbeat strengthens the connection between article and audience to deepen engagement and take content to new heights – no matter the type of publication.

5:00-6:30pm Narrative Science

Larry Birnbaum, Professor and Chair of Computer Science, Northwestern University; Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor, Narrative Science

Narrative Science is an artificial intelligence company that offers tools to make data more useful to businesses and newsrooms. Quill™, its NLG platform, learns and writes like a person, automatically transforming data into narratives.

6:30-7:30pm Working dinner at Mic

Cory Haik, Publisher, Mic

Mic is a leading digital news company, reporting on issues and perspectives that challenge conventional thinking and give voice to the underrepresented. Mic covers news, opinion, reviews, and analysis around arts, entertainment, celebrity, LGBTQ, social justice, police brutality, dating, sex, feminism…

Cory Haik is publisher at Mic. Previously, she was the chief strategy officer at Mic, leading the company’s strategy and growth initiatives across editorial, product, and sales. Prior to Mic, Haik was at The Washington Post, leading innovative initiatives to grow new audiences on mobile and platforms.

Wednesday 12 September

10:00-11:30am Meeting with Julia Angwin, data journalist

Julia is an award-winning investigative journalist, formerly of the independent news organisation ProPublica and The Wall Street Journal. She has twice led investigative teams that were Finalists for a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting. Her book, Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance, was published by Times Books in 2014.Topic to be discussed: how AI will be used by investigative journalists. Analyze of some experiments and case studies.

12:30-2:00pm Wibbitz

Working lunch with Zohar Dayan, Co-Founder & CEO of Wibbitz

Zohar is the Co-Founder & CEO of Wibbitz, the leading automated video creation platform. Wibbitz uses advanced A.I technology to automatically produce premium videos in seconds. Wibbitz powers video production for thousands of videos every day, allowing partners like Reuters, Forbes, Time Inc. ...

6:30pm Flight to Austin, Texas 

Thursday 13 September 

9:30-11:00am Texas Tribune

Rodney Gibbs, Head of Digital Strategy and Liam Andrew, Chief Engineer

Texas Tribune is one of the most successful pure online news organisation in the US with a focus on data journalism. TT has won a lot of awards and it is a leader for regional news.

Topics to be discussed:
Automated tagging fueled by IBM's Watson
Data-based reporting and visualisations. See samples here
Taxonomy of TT content model that fuels automated features like related content, APIs and RSS feeds.
New production/live event space operational in September 2018.

11:30am to 12:30pm Capital Factory Incubator

12:30 ONA Conference

See conference schedule here: https://ona18.journalists.org/sessions/

Recommended sessions: 

Analytics is Not the Answer: Guiding the Narrative in the Age of Data

How to Innovate (and Make Money Doing It) (RSVP)

How to Please Every Platform and Make Video Distribution Work

Are You Running an Experiment, or Just Winging It? 

6:30-7:30pm ONA Reception: Networking and appetizers/dinner 

Friday 14 September

8:30am Breakfast with Croma

Juan Melano, CEO

Croma is a content analytics platform driven by machine learning that adds layers of context on top of the news. UNews organizations use Croma to identify patterns, trends and connections between stories.

9:30 - ONA conference

Recommended sessions:

Deep Dive into Data: Find It, Verify It, Visualize It

Journalism 360 Immersive Storytelling Festival

Augmented Reality is Your Next Immersive Content Experiment 

Machine Learning and You: Boost Audience Engagement, Change Readers’ Habits

Saturday 15 September

10:00am-12:00pm ONA Conference

Recommended sessions:

11th Annual Tech Trends For Journalists

The Fear of AI: When Humans and Robots Just Don't Get Along 

Blockchain to Power Journalism

12:00-1:00pm - Private lunch meeting

Amy Webb (ONA keynote speaker)

Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist. She is a professor of strategic foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business and the Founder of the Future Today Institute, a leading foresight and strategy firm that helps leaders and their organizations prepare for complex futures. Amy was named to the Thinkers50 Radar list of the 30 management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led and was won the prestigious 2017 Thinkers50 RADAR Award. Amy’s special area of research is artificial intelligence, and she has advised three-star generals, White House leadership and CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies on the future of AI.

1:00-5:00pm ONA Conference

End of the study tour

[Optional] 7:00– 10:00pm ONA Online Journalism Awards Ceremony + Banquet


Please note that this program is subject to changes. 


Practical information

Working language

Presentations will be held in English.


Some of the companies visited will present sensitive or private material that is not meant to be shared publicly.


How much does it cost? 

Frst-time participants: €6,500

Previous GEN Study Tour participants: €5,850

Special rate for GEN Summit 2018 participants: €5,200

Interested in coming with a colleague? Receive a 30% discount on the price of the second ticket.

The ticket price covers all expenses, including the Sunday dinner in New York, accommodation, meals, transportation, and travel from New York to Austin. 

Cancelation policy: GEN will reimburse 50 percent of the fee if a participant cancels three weeks before the study tour. Any participant can be replaced by another member of the same media group.  


Who should attend?

The study tour can welcome up to 15 participants and is geared toward editors-in-chief, group editors, senior news executives, and top managers who want to understand how media organisations can take advantage of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and new immersive storytelling methods – from a content and business perspective. 


General Inquiries

Bertrand Pecquerie

Chief Executive Officer

Email: bpecquerie@globaleditorsnetwork.org

Telephone (France): + 33 9 67 73 06 97



Sarah Toporoff

Programme Manager, Study Tour

Email: stoporoff@globaleditorsnetwork.org

Telephone (France): + 33 (0)1 48 04 06 97