Meet Murrow: A New AI Tool that Helps Students Become Better Journalistic Writers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 4, 2023

EUGENE, Oregon – Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI) has released “Murrow,” a beta version of a new free artificial intelligence chatbot in collaboration with Playlab.ai that coaches students in journalistic story development and writing. 

Inspired by Edward R. Murrow, the acclaimed broadcast journalist who advocated for truth during the McCarthy era, the new AI chatbot helps students ideate stories, develop interview questions, and suggests ways they can improve their writing with teacher guidance. Access Murrow at journalisticlearning.org. 

Rather than give “answers” or promote cheating, Murrow encourages students to develop their critical thinking skills, credit sources, and abide by journalistic ethics. 

“The dominant narrative about AI is that it will replace writers and teachers,” said Ed Madison, JLI’s cofounder and executive director. “Actually, thoughtfully developed, AI will free educators and editors to spend more individualized time working with students and writers.” 

“Murrow is a powerful tool because it was designed by experienced journalists and educators like Ed Madison,” said Yusuf Ahmad, co-founder and developer at Playlab Education, Inc. “Our vision with Playlab is to make it easy for educators like Madison to combine their expertise with their power of generative AI.”

Madison unveiled Murrow on Saturday, during the Journalism Education Association’s (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention in Boston, Mass.

One of Murrow’s co-designers, Ellen Austin, co-presented with Madison at the convention. Austin received JEA’s Rising Star Award in 2006 (the inaugural year of that award), was named the 2011 California Journalism Education Coalition Journalism Teacher of the Year, and was the Dow Jones News Fund 2012 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year.

JLI’s Instructional Design Consultant, Melissa Wantz, is also a credited co-designer of Murrow. In addition to being an experienced journalist, Melissa taught middle and high school English Language Arts for 20 years in Ventura, Calif. Melissa created JLI’s Effective Communicators Course, a 10-week long project-based instructional course infused with journalistic strategies for secondary ELA classes.

JLI is an Oregon-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower students to discover their voice, improve academic outcomes, and engage in self-directed learning through project-based storytelling. JLI infuses journalistic strategies into required middle and high school English language arts classes so that all students benefit. 

“Research confirms that all students can potentially benefit from engaging in journalism, regardless of the profession they may choose later in life,” Madison said. “This is a game-changer for supporting students in grasping the fundamentals of journalistic writing,” said Esther Wojcicki, JLI co-founder and board member. 

Since 2015, JLI has benefited more than 10,000 middle and high school students through its Effective Communicators program, which teaches critical thinking and media literacy skills in required English classes. The organization partners with the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and the College of Education, where Madison, JLI’s cofounder and executive director is an associate professor. Learn more at journalisticlearning.org.

Playlab.ai is an open-source AI platform created by Playlab Education, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds creative tools for teachers and students to design AI-powered educational experiences, promote research and broadly and equitably distribute these benefits. Yusuf Ahmad holds a Master’s in Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he contributed to developing creative tools for educators at the MIT Media Lab. Learn more at Playlab.ai.

Contact: Bo Brusco | Communications Manager | bo@journalisticlearning.org | (360)771-5333

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