Aspen Institute Launches Artificial Intelligence Primers for Journalists

June 21, 2023

Resources address common questions many reporters have about artificial intelligence (AI) systems

CONTACT: Victoria Comella
High10 Media 


Washington, D.C., June 21, 2023Aspen Digital, a future-focused policy program of the Aspen Institute, has a long history of developing briefings for media, designed to equip journalists with the expert information they need to raise the level and range of coverage on everything from climate change to elections and voting, to cybersecurity. Now, built in consultation with reporters and artificial intelligence (AI) experts, Aspen Digital has created AI Primers for Journalists to address common questions that many in the news industry have about AI systems. 

The AI Primers contain non-technical explanations of common terms and concepts associated with these emerging technologies. They break down many of the debates currently surfacing and provide examples of how to report on AI systems to broaden the public’s interest and understanding. Although these resources are designed primarily for journalists, the aim is for them to be of use to a wide range of audiences who want to learn more about AI. 

Aspen Digital’s resident experts on emerging technologies include B Cavello, Director of Emerging Technologies, and Eleanor Tursman, Emerging Technologies Researcher. 

“It is essential that the public be able to rely on the press to inform us of emerging issues, but the technical terminology and cultural hype around AI has made it challenging to report clearly and accurately on this topic,” said Cavello. “After hearing from journalists who are trying to make sense of AI and figure out who they can trust, we felt it was important to provide a resource to dispel that confusion.” 

After hosting private events with both AI experts and journalists, this publication is the first public milestone for the work. The primers are meant to be a tool for journalists to help increase the impact of their reporting. The public and policymakers all pay attention to journalists and how they talk about core issues, making it important to ensure that news publishers have the tools to develop the most accurate and nuanced coverage possible on timely and emergent topics, such as AI. 

The primers share accessible definitions for technical terms associated with AI and generative AI, such as “machine learning” and “algorithm,” and explain what data is and why it’s important. They also address specific concerns that journalists have about finding experts in AI, including explanations of common roles in the field, directories of experts, and details on major AI conferences.

This work was made possible thanks to generous support from Siegel Family Endowment, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.



Aspen Digital is a nonpartisan technology and information-focused organization that brings together thinkers and doers to uncover new ideas and spark policies, processes, and procedures that empower communities and strengthen democracy. This future-focused Aspen Institute program inspires collaboration among diverse voices from industry, government, and civil society to ensure our interconnected world is accessible, safe, and inclusive – both online and off. Across its initiatives, Aspen Digital develops methods for elevating promising solutions and turning thought into networked impact. To learn more, visit or email


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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