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Reflecting on ‘Transforming Media: Use of AI and Machine Learning in the Media Industry’

Event on the application of AI & ML in the media industry. (In association with Financial Times & Digital Catapult)

Last Friday at Connect2Teach, we had the pleasure of hosting our first event for students and faculty in the UK to explore the applications of Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in the media industry and are thrilled by the positive response we received.

The event was jointly hosted by Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading centre for the adoption of advanced digital technologies, and experts from the Financial Times. Our partnership with both entities is testament to the strides the government and corporates in the UK are making to bridge the industry-academia gap. When we conceptualized this event, our core motivation was to achieve better integration between industry and academia and enable students to understand applications of the concepts they were learning.

The event featured engaging talks from experts across Financial Times who addressed the ‘data skills gap’ by providing industry-relevant use cases, demonstrating the vast spectrum of career opportunities for students of data science and helping students develop a holistic understanding of why businesses use data and how data can be used.

Angelique Vu (left) and Oliver Elliott (right) talking about how AI & machine learning is impacting media.

  • Oli Elliott, Lead Data Scientist at FT discussed the 24-hour news cycle and demonstrated how complex it is to come up with a “recommendation algorithm” for one of FT’s products, myFT.
  • Lucy Alexander, Analytics Manager at FT, discussed the conflict between entirely automating data analysis vs. developing bespoke models
  • Angelique Vu, software engineer at FT, talked about problems with image recognition and how the organisation has been using machine learning to appeal to more female readers and ensure gender balance in editorial content

Panel Discussion - Connect2Teach
Panel members at the event

This was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Martin Hamilton, Connect2Teach expert and Futurist at Jisc on ‘Now and What Next for Media’. Martin’s offer to moderate is testament to the dedication of our experts to share their knowledge. The panel discussion started off with some interesting points from Martin Stabe, Head of Interactive News from FT on how FT is “democratising skill sets” and how it has become more necessary than ever before for journalists to be able to analyse and interpret data. Tom Betts, Chief Data Officer at FT talked about self-driven cars and the idea that media organisations will be integrated into the driving experience as passengers will have extra time in the day during their commute. Lucy Butler, Head of Customer Analytics at FT brought up an interesting point about how biases can be accounted for and corrected by using data and Max Cleary, Partnerships Lead – AI, Immersive & Blockchain, Digital Catapult brought a holistic perspective on the future role of AI.

It was encouraging to see how highly engaged the audience members were and asked questions about the ownership of data in the future, the relationship between media and self-driven cars and the role of AI in correcting prejudice and bias in content.

This event was part of our #Here2Teach initiative, where we partner with corporates to nominate their senior leadership to share their knowledge, increase brand awareness and ensure smarter talent acquisition. Experts from Financial Times have partnered with us on numerous occasions through this initiative, showing a strong commitment to improving employability. Through this event we were able to make this kind of knowledge sharing more accessible to a wider audience across institutions.

What our stakeholders think!

“We have been discussing the integration of industry-academia for ages. We wanted to create something that helps break down those barriers and enables easy interaction over real opportunities. We are excited to see that happening at such a scale enabling students to not only understand the applications of what they are learning but also network more freely with industry. The partnership with Digital Catapult helps us further drive impact through mutual motivations of driving greater industry-academia interactions in the UK”

– Priyanka Agarwal, Founder, and CEO,

“Digital Catapult works with academia and businesses to help harness the power of AI to bring transformative changes across the manufacturing and creative industries. The potential for machine learning and AI in the media sector is huge, not just in increasing efficiency in production but also in increasing the quality of engagement with consumers.”

– Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, commented

“I really enjoyed hearing some of the perspectives of the teams at Connect2teach, Financial Times and Digital Catapult. I work in the TMT sector with Marketing recruitment so it’s great to see how the online performance world is evolving and being at the forefront of the conversation for technology innovation when speaking to our clients. “

– Principal Consultant, Digital & Marketing Communications Practice, VMA Group

“The event was incredibly informative and insightful – the speakers all shared their expertise whilst giving examples that were easy to understand for those not familiar with the in-depth workings of AI & Machine Learning. There were good discussions between the speakers and the audience with the former happily elaborating on the topic being queried.”

– Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL

“I think the panelists chosen at the event provided a great overview of decision making at a higher level. Personally, as I’m a student it was great to connect with individuals pursuing careers in the industry!”

– Student, Masters in Data Science, Leeds-Beckett University

“The event was really interesting and engaging. I really liked the fact that everyone had 10-15 minutes to explain their projects and then we had Q&A so the audience could stay focused for the entire explanation.”

– Student, Journalism, Film and TV, London Metropolitan University

“I think what made the event successful was the specific cases that the FT staff were able to explain during their presentations – Oli, Lucy, and Angelique’s presentations were all very well done and served as concrete examples of how the news media industry is changing and how they’ve been using AI and data to stimulate that change. “

– MBA student, University of Oxford- Saïd Business School

Speakers & Panel Members from Connect2Teach, Digital Catapult & Financial Times

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