Postdoctoral Researcher in AI and Journalism

Updated: 10 days ago
Deadline: 15 May 2020

Journalism is going through challenging times, with the decline of trust in institutional journalism, the competitive pressure of free online news, and the emergence of decentralized gate-keeping through social media and news aggregators. Journalism has adapted to the digital ecosystem, where algorithms and AI direct audience traffic and help determine revenue, with differing degrees of success. Large national news companies, such as The Guardian and The New York Times, have been able to adapt and leverage technology to reach a global audience. For local (and regional) news providers it has been much more difficult to remain innovative and sustainable because of the inherently limited local market and a lack of resources. Moreover, many of the innovations powering the modern news ecosystem, such as automatic curation and news algorithms for personalized news delivery, are fuelling concerns about filter bubbles and polarization.

This postdoc position is part of a project to harness the possibilities afforded by AI to help local journalism cope with these challenges, while taking the journalistic norms and values that are central to its role in democratic societies as a central design principle. The project is an interdisciplinary, international cooperation between Professor Neil Thurman (LMU Munich), a renowned expert on the adoption and implications of computational journalism; Professor Helle Sjovaag (U of Stavanger), an expert on journalism and the media industry; Professor Natali Helberger (U of Amsterdam) an expert on media law and value sensitive design; Junior Professor Mario Haim (U of Leipzig), an expert in communication science and computational journalism; Dr Antske Fokkens (VU Amsterdam) an associate professor of computational linguistics; and Dr Wouter van Atteveldt, (VU Amsterdam) an associate professor of communication science and computational communication science.

Job description

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher.

Together with this team of PIs, the tasks of the postdoc will be to:

  • help identify the most promising applications of AI in the local journalistic process, in cooperation with a local journalism organization;
  • map the use of AI in journalism, with a focus on local journalism;
  • help preparing a funding application;
  • help preparing a journal publication in a high ranking academic journal.

Depending on the successful candidate’s preference, the postdoc can be based at: LMU Munich (with Neil Thurman), the University of Amsterdam (with Natali Helberger), the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (with Wouter van Atteveldt), or Leipzig University (with Mario Haim).


The successful candidate must have:

  • a degree and/or PhD in journalism, media studies, human-computer interaction, or other related discipline;
  • strong affinity with the subject matter;
  • some experience with ethnographic and qualitative research methods;
  • preferably: some experience of drafting funding applications;
  • good communication and writing skills;
  • good organization skills;
  • enthusiasm for and ideally experience of working in a highly interdisciplinary (computer science, journalism studies, communication science, and law) and international setting;
  • fluency in English and preferably another European language (German, Dutch, Norwegian);
  • the ability to work independently and yet be a team player.

Note: the position may involve travelling.

Our offer

A full-time, fixed term (12 months), position based at the University of Amsterdam (Institute for Information Law), the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, LMU Munich or Leipzig University. Starting October 2020.

If based at LMU Munich or Leipzig University salary scale E 13 TV-L (€3,837 to €5,622 gross per month - full-time equivalent - depending on experience).

If based at the University of Amsterdam or Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam salary scale 10-11 (€2,709 to €4,978 gross per month - full-time equivalent - depending on experience).

The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  applies. Secondary benefits at Dutch universities are attractive and include 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year allowance.

About the Faculty

The Amsterdam Law School prides itself on its international orientation and strong social commitment. This is reflected by both its research and educational activities. The Amsterdam Law School offers three Bachelor’s programmes, including the interdisciplinary English-language Bachelor Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) in cooperation with two other Faculties, as well as a variety of Master's programmes, several of which are taught exclusively in English (i.e. International and European Law, European Private Law, International Criminal Law, and Law & Finance). The Amsterdam Law School prepares students for a wide variety of legal careers including law firms, government, business and industry, the national and international judiciary, public service, human rights advocacy, and academia. With 4000 students and over 450 staff members, it is one of the largest law faculties in the Netherlands.

The Institute for Information Law, created in 1987 as a centre of excellence for research, is the largest research facility in the field of information law in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. The Institute employs over 30 researchers who are active in a broad spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, freedom of information, privacy, Internet governance, etc. The institute’s mission is to further the development of information law into a balanced framework that accommodates the needs and interests of the information society. Information law is a normative concept that integrates the law relating to the production, marketing, distribution and use of information. IViR has a strong presence in European and international academic networks through a broad array of activities, regularly engages in national and international research collaborations, and collaborates with non-legal disciplines such as economics, communications science, computer science, philosophy, digital humanities and the arts.

The institute, moreover, maintains close ties with two interdisciplinary research cooperations, Information & Communication in the DataSociety (ICDS)  and Human(e) AI within the UvA, establishing cooperations with the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) , the Faculty of Humanities, Computer Science and Medicine.

Further information

You may obain additional information about the vacancy from:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

You may send your motivation letter, including a detailed curriculum vitae (combined as a single PDF attachment) to the link below.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 15 May 2020. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

View or Apply

Similar Positions