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News automation: The publishers’ treasure trove

We’ve been automating news since 2015 to fit with the business and journalism strategy of dozens and dozens of publishers. We have learnings to share.

This is our newsroom knowledge hub
– feel free to explore.


Weather warnings at Advance Local: triple win for the newsroom

Because automated editorial content is created from verified, structured data, it can safely be automatically published – from reliable data comes reliable text. This reliability lies behind a number of values gained in the newsrooms of Advance Local who publish automated weather warnings. During a seminar at INMA Media Subscription Summit in New York, Advance Local VP Content Strategy Lamar Graham and Matt Dowling, Director of Breaking and Local News at NJ Advance Media explained how the newsrooms work with, and benefit from, the automated content.

Advance Local’s venture into the use of automated content began in 2022, and had nothing to do with extreme weather. The media group has ten local markets, one of which is Massachusetts. There, the newspaper the Republican in Springfield had for a long time been publishing a listing of all the homes sold in Hampton County in print, collated manually from a spreadsheet. When they started publishing the same content online, they realised it was converting readers into subscribers, “and that’s when a light bulb went off,” said Lamar Graham. If they could replicate this type of content across many more markets, it would potentially amplify the effect. But having reporters manually put together lists to achieve a few hundred pageviews was not viable. “But what if we could somehow automate this and hoover up a bunch of this data around the country and scale it – that might be worth something. This was our hypothesis,” said Graham. Researching options, Advance Local came across United Robots and discovered we had already done the data hoovering and had automated real estate content production for the US in place (albeit from Malmö, Sweden). Advance Local started testing the automated real estate content at in 2022, and rolled it out to all other markets bar one in 2023.

United Robots CMO Cecilia Campbell presents at Nordic AI in Media Summit 2023

Report from Nordic AI in Media Summit 2023

With the uptake of AI in media – generative AI in particular – the media industry is at the beginning of a new wave of digital transformation with implications for everything from content, to brand, ethics, business and labour practices.  So it’s no surprise that the Nordic AI in Media Summit in Copenhagen recently was a sell-out. After a spring of intense AI discussions, the summit was a chance for some much needed collective stock-taking. 

By Cecilia Campbell

AI in the local newsroom and how it will attract talent

A newly published academic article flips the old popular premise of robots stealing journalists' jobs on its head. It argues that in a time when attracting talent presents a challenge, AI can actually help local newsrooms – in a couple of ways. For one, automation can take care of routine reporting – tasks that journalists are overqualified to do. Secondly, a newsroom at the cutting edge of tech is a more attractive workplace.

Small newsrooms have the most to gain from AI and automation

In just a couple of years a major shift has happened in local media with regards to AI and automation of newsroom processes. In February last year, I wrote a blog here about how small newsrooms can benefit from this new tech. At that point, a significant majority of media leaders surveyed in Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, thought AI is something that will mainly benefit large publishers.

How data may herald in a new era in local journalism

Newsroom resources are stretched. News deserts expand. Local community information is patchy and hard to find. This perfect storm of local journalism challenges may prove a catalyst for change, and at the eye of it is data. Reliable, comprehensive, updated data.

2022 – the year robot journalism heads into the mainstream

It's January and the annual Journalism, media, and technology trends and predictions report from Reuters Institute lands on the news industry's virtual desks. Like previous years, the 2022 iteration – based on a survey of 246 media leaders across 52 countries – conveys a snapshot of an industry in constant change. From our point of view, this year marked a milestone. While AI in the newsroom has been discussed in the past few editions, the 2022 report for the first time mentions robot journalism specifically. This aligns with what we're seeing – over the past 12 months awareness of content automation as a newsroom tool has shot up. So let us provide a January 2022 snapshot of our corner of the business of journalism.

A growing number of publishers automate real estate coverage – here’s why

Imagine publishing an article every time a house is sold in any of the neighborhoods you cover. Complete with images and satellite maps. With robots in the newsroom, generating this volume of content is not an issue. And suddenly, you can reach individual readers in local communities with stories relevant just to them. Here, we’ll look at how this logic is helping news publishers drive journalism and business effects today.

Why volume is the real star of news automation

For the publishers we work with, there is one aspect of automated content that really stands out. One key value they leverage – namely the volume of texts the robots can produce. Time and again we see it. Media companies discovering the real benefit of news automation when they start using it to provide coverage where there previously was none. For sports e g, it means you can set up a publishing timeline (see image) for every league, every match, every reader – all generated automatically.

When robots drive inclusive journalism

Update: The Q&A function won a third place in the Best New Technology or Digital Product category of the 2020 Global Media Awards.

Talking to a BBC journalist the other day, I was laying out the drivers behind newsroom automation at Swedish local media groups. We agreed it sounds somewhat contradictory that robots now play an active role in creating journalism that involves hundreds – thousands – of people that were rarely seen in local news stories before. I was talking specifically about our Sports robot’s Q&A function, which – we’re very happy to say – has been nominated in INMA’s 2020 Global Media Awards.


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