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United Robots + partners headline new automation report

We’re proud to note that United Robots publisher partners feature heavily in a big, new international report on automated journalism from INMA (International News Media Association). While we’ve not been directly involved in the production of the report, it relies on several cases from our publisher partners and draws on insights provided by us and our clients during workshops and webinars over the past ten months. And its two main takeaways are that 1, automation is good for the bottom line, and 2, it frees up time for (but does not replace) journalists.

2022 has been the year news automation has become a real priority in the industry. In its yearly trend report in January, Reuters Institute noted that robot journalism is "where many of the most future-focused publishers are spending their time.” Over the year the uptake of content automation among not least local media has grown significantly, and the topic has been discussed at many media events, including (links to recordings) INMA Subscription Summit and a recent Press Gazette webinar.

INMA’s new report How Automated Journalism is Shaping the Future of News Media clearly takes the view that automation is something publishers should embrace. As author Paula Felps says in the executive summary: ”What the industry can expect is that automated journalism will continue to shape news media companies, the journalism they produce, and the way that affects their business model.”

She adds that automation is good for the bottom line: ”The question of revenue must be raised, and robots are doing their part to not just cut costs, but to bring in money. More media companies are using automation to drive revenue, whether that is through creating new products that attract subscribers or being able to sell more targeted advertising as a result of that content.”

Some insights in the report from United Robots partners

The INMA report features insights from our publisher partners McClatchy in the US, local media titles Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenblad and Fædrelandsvennen in Norway, Swedish local media group NTM as well as from United Robots Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Sundgren and Chief Marketing Officer Cecilia Campbell.

Find your newsroom champions. McClatchy’s VP Audience Growth & Content Monetization Cynthia DuBose covers the six steps the group went through to get started. She points out the importance of identifying the newsrooms that were ready to drive the automation project. “We found editors who were really passionate. We knew we had to try this in newsrooms that were going to be ready to experiment, but also had kind of some understanding of what was happening in the industry with AI.”

Journalists appreciate the freed up time. Swedish local media group NTM’s Anna Karin Tilleby says their newsrooms are now on side. “In the beginning, reporters feared they would lose their jobs to a robot that would produce the text of poor quality. Now they see the robot-generated content as an add-on to reporting — and it allows journalists to give their full attention to doing what they do best, which is writing quality, well-researched stories.”

Reporters + robots = new products. McClatchy use the combination of journalists and robots to launch new products. “In every market that we have AI-generated real estate content, we’re starting newsletters because now we have enough volume to be able to package that and put it together into another product,” according to DuBose.

INMA’s report can be downloaded here.

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