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Postdoc position on a project about the potential for AI in local journalism

Einrichtung: Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
(Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung)
Besetzungsdatum: 12.10.2020
Ende der Bewerbungsfrist: 15.05.2020
Entgeltgruppe: E 13 TV-L
Befristung: 12 months / 12 Monate

Es besteht grundsätzlich die Möglichkeit der Teilzeitbeschäftigung.

Die Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) ist eine der renommiertesten und größten Universitäten Deutschlands.


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.

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 post 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 will 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).
  • Ability to work independently and yet be a team player.
  • Note: the position may involve travelling.


Full-time, fixed term (12 months) position based at LMU Munich, the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or Leipzig University. Starting October 2020.

If based at LMU Munich or Leipzig University salary scale E 13 TV-L (€3837 - €5622 per month depending on experience).

If based at the University of Amsterdam or Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam salary scale 10-11 (€2709 - €4911 depending on experience)

Schwerbehinderte Personen werden bei ansonsten im Wesentlichen gleicher Eignung bevorzugt.


Your application (in English only) should include: a motivation letter (including whether you would want to be based at LMU Munich, the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or Leipzig University), your CV with publication list, the names and contact details of two references, copy of degree certificates and transcript of grades. Please also include a link to sole or first authored publication/s and your Master’s or PhD thesis.

Complete applications should be submitted as a single PDF document to: by 15 May 2020.


Prof. Neil Thurman