Texas Tech University

CoMC Doctoral Student Wins NYU AI Challenge with Development of Tool for Journalists

Andrea Payne

June 22, 2023

Md Ashraful Goni

CoMC Doctoral student recently won the NYU Artificial Intelligence (AI) local news challenge.

Md Ashraful Goni, a doctoral student in the College of Media & Communication, created a project— Project Bangla AI— that recently won the NYU Artificial Intelligence (AI) local news challenge. Goni's passion for adding something more long-term to his research during his doctoral studies came through the development of an AI tool for journalists to use in the industry.  

Through a timely sense with modern technology, Goni was curious to discover how journalists adopt the use of Artificial Intelligence in their work. More specifically, Goni wanted to study how AI could impact journalists in their jobs and how it diffuses to other journalists.

Along with his research, Goni and his team formulated a tool for working professionals to utilize and is now receiving recognition for his contributions.

“This is similar to what I already do in research, but it is also a bit different,” said Goni. “In research, we have to come up with an idea to study. For the NYU local news challenge, you have to come up with a product for a service. The NYU local news challenge is funded by the Knight Foundation and provides reasoning behind how we can use AI to leverage local news and journalism.

The thing I teach with my project is the idea that we can use Artificial Intelligence to improve the quality of ethnic media.”

Turning his dream more into a reality, Goni and his team received award money to help with the production of the AI tool for journalists. His excitement for showcasing the project, however, is priceless.

“My reasoning behind pitching this project is because when I see the research data, it shows that less than 50 percent of Bangladeshi immigrants are fluent in English,” said Goni. “When you are not fluent in English, you are obviously consuming information through any other media source and most of them use ethnic media as their sources. Also, when I went to New York, I feel like the standards for the newspapers there are quite low. By low in this context, I mean they are not aligned with the mainstream US Media.”

While journalists are tasked with finding information daily, interviewing, and producing stories, Goni says a lot of their time is used listening to others and he wanted to develop something that would minimize the amount of time doing so.

“Most of the time for journalists is spent on translation,” said Goni. “Of course, there is Google Translation, but we wanted to make something specifically for the journalists where they could easily copy and paste at their convenience. With this project, we are able to provide just that and it's like a mix of Chat GPT and Google Translation but for journalists.”

While we are living in a more modern era with the technology we are surrounded by, Goni wants everyone to know we should embrace it rather than fear what it could do.

“One thing we need to understand when we talk about Artificial Intelligence is that before anything else, it is a tool,” said Goni. “The biggest thing here is that it is helping us and not replacing us. The way I see it is that it works the same way we would want to use Microsoft Word, for example. It is quicker and provides us with more leverage.”

Seeing his hard work paying off is something that he is proud of and Goni is excited to have his AI tool— Bangla AI— launch in late June.

During his time developing his AI tool in the College of Media & Communication, Goni is thankful for his mentors who have supported him every step of the way.

Dr. Kent Wilkinson has helped me with my understanding of ethnic media and assisted with my study on Bangladeshi immigrants in London which has been a thrill,” said Goni. “I was also able to work with Dr. Kerk Kee and the Innovation Diffusion Lab (IDL) with how I can use innovation and diffusion with technology. Dr. Coy Callison also encouraged my training through this process and always supports graduate students here. My study with Dr. Eko last fall has also shaped me in what I wanted to do with AI and journalism.”


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