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There are more journalistic news sources than ever before, especially with emerging media start-ups doing new things with technology, explained Marjaana Toiminen during one of INMA World Congress’ last presentations on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m talking about digital transformation,” she said.

Toiminen, co-founder and senior advisor for Mindmill Network, started by examining the current state of journalism, saying that print and television news consumption is going down, online is stable and social media is the only one growing.

Not surprisingly, research from Reuters shows that younger audiences get their news from social media while older individuals still tune in and watch television news.

Marjaana Toiminen of Windmill Network discussing the digital transformation of data mining, viral engagement, and artificial intelligence.
Marjaana Toiminen of Windmill Network discussing the digital transformation of data mining, viral engagement, and artificial intelligence.

Forty-six percent of social media users discuss news on a regular basis, but unfortunately they do not know the real origin of the news stories when they find them on sites like Facebook, Toiminen added.

Currently, Facebook is largest news platform in Sweden based on reach, she said.

Toiminen then shifted to the conversation to the future of the industry and listed big data, viral engagement, premium associations, individual power, and robots as key parts in the digital transformation.

She described the work of the world’s leading data broker Acxiom, which has 700 million user profiles. Acxiom uses the data on these users to make propensities about the choices they make. It then sells this data, so that companies can tailor their services and products based on users’ decisions.

Additionally, she spoke on MindMeld, an artificial intelligence voice platform that listens to users while they have conversations by phone or in a chat and recommends products and services based on what it hears the user say.

Toiminen’s final example was the personalised recommendations of Netflix, which can now track users’ viewing preferences and suggest new titles based on previous selections. Now, 75% of viewing on Netflix is recommended, she said.

Big Data is about people — finding and identifying all of us, she explained.

In terms of viral engagement, Toiminen described the importance of partnerships and relationships. Ventures like Vessel, for instance, a video subscription service founded by the early team behind Hulu, has struck deals with YouTube stars, and Heleo, a start-up platform meant for people who have gathered significant followings with their blogs.

Robots were another hot topic for Toiminen. She introduced the audience to Viv, a virtual assistant that “wants to read your mind and run your life.” Viv has the ability to know users personally through automated insights into their lives and preferences.

Robots have found their place in the journalism industry by producing as many as 3,000 stories per quarter for different organizations. These “robot journalists” are well versed in AP style and write the data heavy stories like sports and finance so that human journalists can devote more time to the deeper, longer form stories.

Toiminen commented that she did not cover Rirtual Reality in her presentation, but informed the audience that The New York Times had already hired its first Virtual Reality journalist.

She encouraged these start-ups and their co-existence with more traditional companies, saying they are all learning from each other and helping each other to evolve.

To sum up Toiminen’s presentation, the race toward the future of journalism has only just begun.