Published 2024-02-02

AI is sparking creativity in Schibsted’s newsrooms

AI helped E24 reveal how a Norwegian minister had plagiarised text in her master essay. She left her job. Schibsted’s news media companies are setting up their organisations to improve journalism and user experience and to make work more efficient, with the help of AI.

Marcus Husby just started as Director of Editorial AI in VG. Marcus Husby just started as Director of Editorial AI in VG.

There are now AI-responsible people or teams in all of Schibsted’s newsrooms. The latest appointment is Marcus Husby who just started as Director of Editorial AI in VG. He is responsible for all AI tools that will be used in the editorial content production. He mentions E24’s plagiarism case as an excellent example of how AI can support investigative journalism. VG followed up and scrutinized other ministers.

“At VG, we also utilise our proprietary AI tools to draft initial versions of news articles, covering everything from celebrities to sports. Additionally, we are working on further developing our transcription tool JoJo, which has already saved over 18,000 hours in transcription work,” he says.

AI will shape the future of journalism

Generative AI is a game changer for society and businesses – not least for media. In our annual trend outlook – Schibsted Future Report 2024 – Ian Vännman, Strategy Advisor in Schibsted, states that the news media business stands at a revolutionary shift as AI will shape the future of journalism and content creation.

Eivind Fiskerud, responsible for Editorial AI at Schibsted agrees. Here and now it comes down to strengthening the journalists in their profession, he says, with a clear stance on how to use AI, grounded in our longstanding tradition of journalistic ethics.

“It’s important for Schibsted to be in the forefront in this area, in terms of innovation, but also to make sure editorial AI is developed and used in a responsible and trustworthy manner,” he says.

E24 got a tip about Sandra Boch’s essay. She was the Minister of Science and Higher Education. Andreas Fosse, Head of Editorial AI at E24, says they were lucky to find a tool that could help them review the essay, but that this shows the possibilities that lie within AI.

“This revelation had not been possible without the help of AI, at least not to publish it as quickly as we did after getting the tip,” Andreas says. He works across the editorial room and there is a group of journalists identifying and cooperating with E24 AI projects.

And as for many of the newsrooms, he thinks it’s crucial to educate journalists and actually make them use existing tools that, for instance, support research, make the processes more efficient and improve texts.

Schibsteds newsrooms are experimenting with AI

Aftonbladet has an AI hub – led by Deputy Editorial Director, Martin Schori. It consists of seven employees who are working full-time to explore, test and implement AI in Aftonbladet. They look into new tools and services, but they also investigate work processes to make them more efficient – and more fun. Some examples are tools to help the editorial staff write scripts for TikTok, create ideas on how to follow up a story and make SEO-optimised headlines.

“It’s important for us to not just keep up – but to lead this development,” says Martin Schori. And soon Aftonbladet will launch an AI voice to read news summaries.

In this area, Aftenposten has taken the lead – most of their news and stories are now also read by their AI voice. Jostein Ihlebæk is responsible for AI in their newsroom. They have a group of 20 people from different departments who are trying out different tools and sharing experiences. Jostein has also held courses for all editorial departments. Together with Schibsted and Svenska Dagbladet, they have developed routines and AI-supported solutions to make it easy to translate and share content.

“Thanks to this, users get access to more qualitative journalism,” he says.

Svenska Dagbladet will also soon have their AI voice in place. They have a dedicated AI group, led by Johan Silversten Bergman, Head of Editorial Development. Lately, they have focused on teaching all employees about the options and risks with ChatGPT and worked on a prototype to detect sentiments in articles. During a week, a small editorial group also worked to create smaller AI tools that would make the day-to-day job easier.

“It was great fun to see how a group of clever people could find out how we can work more efficiently with AI,” Johan says.

At Omni, the goal is that everyone should learn how to work with AI. The team will spend at least 5% of their working time on AI-related projects or education.

“We want to teach all of our editors how to build the tools we want to use. To have that control increases the willingness to use them,” says Calle Sandstedt, responsible for Omni’s AI initiative together with editor-in-chief Markus Gustafsson.

Just like Marcus Husby at VG, Elin Stueland is brand new in her position as project lead for AI at Stavanger Aftenblad. They are also educating their employees and mapping out needs. Elin sees AI as a great assistant, not least in the creative process when using speech-to-text tools, generating headlines and creating summaries.

“And opportunities are huge when it comes to investigative journalism,” she says.

At Bergens Tidende, Jan Stian Vold is also focusing on increasing their AI competence, as responsible in the editorial room. They are soon getting their AI voice in place, they use AI to sort comments and they have a weather service based on AI. All of these different newsrooms are collaborating across Schibsted.

Eivind Fiskerud has established regular meetings where everyone responsible for AI in the newsrooms and product teams exchange learnings and identify AI initiatives for collaboration. One prioritized initiative this year is to develop a “Copilot for journalists” that will be integrated into the CMS. The tool will help journalists by correcting errors, identifying repetitive content, suggesting edits to enhance readability and offering editorial guidance on ethics.

“The surge in generative AI has really sparked new creativity and innovation in our newsrooms”, says Eivind Fiskerud.