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Three local media groups go all in with robot journalism

2018 has certainly been the year automated content – robot journalism – has had a real break-through in Swedish newsrooms. The majority of Swedish local media groups, as well as national giant Aftonbladet, daily publish automated editorial texts in collaboration with Swedish United Robots.

As we head into 2019, three local groups are stepping it up a notch: Sweden’s largest local media group MittMedia, VK Media in Umeå, and NTM (including titles like Norrköpings Tidningar and Upsala Nya Tidning). The media groups have signed contracts for the entirety of United Robots’ services: sport write-ups and pre-match texts, property sales articles, texts about company registrations and bankruptcies and traffic and weather news.

 “The aim of this effort is provide current and future customers with an even better local news service. The robot articles will probably not individually drive lots of traffic, but through personalized sites which show the “right” articles to the “right” users, the robot will help us offer our customers more content relevant to them,” says NTM Editorial Director Nils Olauson.

 “We know our readers want more instant updates about traffic and weather, helping them in their everyday lives. We also know they want us to satisfy their curiosity about who’s bought their neighbour’s house, who has set up a new company or how the local football or ice hockey team has fared.”

 In addition to personalisation, automated content also allow newsrooms to focus more on advanced, valuable journalism. Nils Olauson: “By letting the robot manage the basics, we free up editorial resources, allowing our reporters to focus on finding the more elusive but truly essential stories which really engage people. In this way our drive into automation is also a drive to develop and improve journalism.”

 MittMedia Editorial Director Carl-Johan Bergman, concurs. “Automation is a clear win-win for us – to have technology help us create interesting content which we’ve previously lacked, and let us focus editorial resources on deep dive coverage when the final whistle blows, rather than just do a quick write-up. The text robot is not replacing our journalists, but rather it helps us prioritise correctly how we use our resources.”

 VK Media COO and Digital Director Marie-Louise Jarlenfors: "Thanks to United Robots’ robot solutions we can offer our readers more hyper-local content and coverage without having to commit more editorial resources. Instead, journalists can focus on producing more quality, local journalism and spend time on investigative journalism that makes a difference.”

“In the future we’d also like to give our readers a more personalised experience and we’ll then leverage the big quantity of hyper-local articles generated by the robots. We believe this will make us more relevant and give customers a better user experience.”

 More coming
“We’re thrilled to be entrusted to deliver all our services to these publishers,” says our CEO Sören Karlsson. “It’s proof automated content works. Artificial Intelligence and automation is happening across the board now.”

Automation allows publishers to considerably increase the volume of texts at a fraction of the time in terms of production and publication, compared to manual processes. United Robots’ solutions enable personalisation, super local content and brand new online businesses, including new sites and sections or entry into niche content markets.

 Today United Robots’ automated sports texts are published on most local media sites (and some printed papers) in Sweden. MittMedia, Gota Media, NTM, Norran in Skellefteå, Hall Media, the Stampen local titles in the west of the country, OTV, VK Media and Finnish HSS Media all subscribe to the services. For Schibsted title Aftonbladet, United Robots generate automated football texts as well as quick news bites on traffic and weather.

“In 2019 we’re looking forward to launching automated texts on new topics and in new languages,” says Sören Karlsson.

Learn more about how news automation can support local newsrooms

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