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On March 4, citing pandemic-related economic hardship, the Sinclair Broadcast Group laid off 5% of its workforce, including four on-air personalities from its NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, KSNV. It was only the latest in a series of newsroom purges like it.
Since 2008, newsroom employment across five different production industries — newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable and “other information services” — has fallen 26%. Figures like that help explain the response KSNV weatherman Jerry Brown had to the delivery of his pink slip.
“It’s the biz,” he said.
The NYC Media Lab is working to ensure that it is not the future of the biz, and it’s doing so by helping build tools that many newsies might want to rail against, out of fear they’ll ultimately promote the opposite outcome.
A consortium of local universities working in tandem with news publishers and other corporate partners to, among other goals, develop technology that will aid in newsroom production, the NYC Media Lab recently launched an “AI and Local News Challenge.” Across 16 weeks, says a press release, “startups and university teams in creative tech, journalism, design and technology and other disciplines will be tasked with developing project concepts and prototypes that leverage a range of AI technologies to solve problems for and empower news organizations, journalists and news audiences.”