November 29, 2016 Last Updated 8:53 am

Quartz to launch the Quartz Bot Studio with help of $240K grant from the Knight Foundation

Bot Studio looks to develop and launch experiments with bots, artificial intelligence and related technologies using new platforms and approaches

NEW YORK, NY — November 29, 2016 — To better engage and inform the public and advance understanding of new technologies in journalism —  from artificial intelligence to internet bots —  Quartz is launching the Quartz Bot Studio with $240,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Bots are increasingly used in messaging apps and other contexts to enhance a users’ experience, whether they are shopping or reading the news. The Quartz Bot Studio aims to apply this technology to advance the field of journalism by experimenting with new ways to reach and inform audiences, and sharing these lessons widely.

The growth and adoption of new platforms, from messaging apps such as Slack and Facebook Messenger to voice-based interfaces such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, offer opportunities to distribute news and information to consumers in different ways. Yet most news organizations have little experience with developing audiences, measuring impact and applying the new formats required to use these technologies effectively.

Quartz, Atlantic Media’s source for global business news, will use Knight funding to experiment with new ways of informing the public based on emerging consumption habits, devices and platforms. Lessons will be shared widely with the field of journalism. In particular, the Quartz Bot Studio will use Knight’s support to:

  • Develop and launch three experiments with bots, artificial intelligence and related technologies using a variety of new platforms and approaches.
  • Measure, refine and establish best practices based on these experiments, with a focus on turning prototypes into working models for new forms of storytelling that can be replicated by other organizations.
  • Help others learn by openly documenting the work online.

“Bots and AI are going to upend how people get information. We’re excited to launch more experiments that take advantage of recent advances in natural language processing, machine learning, conversational interfaces, and so on,” said Zach Seward, senior vice president of product and executive editor at Quartz.

“The way people experience news is changing constantly and journalists must keep up by experimenting with new approaches and technologies. The Quartz Bot Studio will advance this goal through a series of projects to better understand the growing field of bots and artificial intelligence to reach and inform audiences in new ways,” said Shazna Nessa, Knight Foundation director for journalism.

Quartz has pioneered the use of chat applications as a way to deliver news. Its app released earlier in 2016 turns news into a conversation with the Quartz newsroom. Quartz also created a Slack event concierge, @tnbot, for its flagship conference, The Next Billion, in San Francisco this year.

Funding for the Quartz Bot Studio is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to support innovative approaches to the use of technology to advance the practice of journalism. Knight has made many investments in this area, including the establishment of the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab and recent funding to Frontline to support a virtual reality partnership with Emblematic Group.

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