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Science & Technology Series: Research Spotlight

New Google tool in development will boost journalist productivity

Cass Business School and the Department of Journalism are collaborating on a new digital project, funded by Google’s Digital News Initiative, to support journalist creativity and productivity during the early stages of story development.

by Amy Ripley (Senior Communications Officer)

The project is called JUICE and is an add-on to Google Docs that supports a journalist to discover and explore new creative angles on stories as they write.  JUICE, which appears a simple sidebar in Google Docs, also supports journalists to be more productive with features to discover and download related references into the new stories.

To deliver these capabilities, JUICE embeds different forms of artificial intelligence - national language processing, creative web searches, and creativity recommendation algorithms - to support and guide the journalist.

Professor Neil Maiden, Director of the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, said:

“This Google-funded project has enabled us to deploy our advanced creative search and recommendations tools to a new sector – journalism.  JUICE fits with how journalists work. Use of it can nudge journalists to be more creative, and improve their productivity at the same time.”

Professor George Brock, Department of Journalism, said:

“We think that journalists would find creative uses for a search engine which doesn’t think in straight lines but which thinks sideways towards the kind of material which a reporter might not think of at first but which might be helpful.  We’re keen to hear from newsrooms which would be ready to try out Juice and give us reactions.”

When scoping the project, the team interviewed experienced journalists and their research revealed six strategies that journalists reported as effective for developing creative news angles:

  1. Individuals: creatively explore different human angles in a news story based on the different people and roles associated with the story.
  2. Causal: creatively explore the background events that underpin a story in order to discover a new angle to the story from its background.
  3. Quirky: creatively explore unusual or comical information about a story as a means of using wit to report serious news.
  4. Quantifiable elements: creatively explore numerical and quantified information about a news story in order to back it up with evidence in new and useful ways.
  5. Ramifications: creatively explore information about the consequences of events and actions related to a news story in order to generate new and useful stories about future consequences.
  6. Data visualisations: creatively explore different data sets and visualisations in order to generate new and useful ways about how to display information in a news story to encourage human insight.

Each of these six strategies was then designed in the form of a computerised algorithm to search for, retrieve and present news information as recommendations to stimulate journalists to create new story angles that instantiate the strategy.

Professor Maiden added:

“Initial feedback from JUICE is exciting, and suggests a lot of potential for its uptake.  We are now undertaking further research with journalists to further test it in live newsroom environments.”

If you are interested in testing JUICE or finding out more, please contact Amy Ripley, Senior Communications Officer, Cass Business School on amy.ripley@city.ac.uk or 020 7040 3134.

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