Last week I participated in the INMA Stockholm Study Tour. Here are five things I learned from the experience.

1. Aftenposten’s headquarters in central Oslo is a sort of “Disneyland for journalists.” They were even sunbathing on the rooftop terrace when it was snowed in!

But the main thing is the company has been doing well for years, especially when it comes to having a reader-focused strategy. Like most Nordic-quality newspapers, it has not been distracted by large global audiences of little value. Thanks to this, it has traveled a path from which we can learn a lot.

40 participants from 17 countries trekked through Oslo and Stockholm visiting several news media publishers.
40 participants from 17 countries trekked through Oslo and Stockholm visiting several news media publishers.

The most impressive thing was the 9:00 a.m. 15-minute meeting. Espen Egil Hansen, executive editor and CEO of the company, led the meeting with just three slides: “Three Aftenposten stories from this weekend I really love, and how they could have been even better.” There wasn’t a single number on the conversation — not pageviews or how many people became subscribers yesterday.

And what, in his opinion, could have they done even better? “Well, this gallery is nice, but the UX in mobile is not perfect … ” — and similar comments. All the organisation is invited to the meeting. It’s just 15 minutes with three additional courtesy minutes the day we attended the meeting because they had guests with a lot of questions. It was really impressive.

2. Big groups (Schibsted and Bonnier, for example) have different brands (generally one quality newspaper and one tabloid) that compete each other when it comes to journalism. However, they collaborate in the rest of the business areas, like data, sign-on, ads, strategy, and know-how.

3. Everything is amazing at Amedia, the big regional Norwegian group. I was already familiar with this company since we at La Voz de Galicia are the “Nordic-Spanish.” We also have fjords in Galicia and we don’t have typical Mediterranean weather.

INMA Study tour participants tour the Nattavisen newsroom, an online-only daily newspaper owned by Amedia.
INMA Study tour participants tour the Nattavisen newsroom, an online-only daily newspaper owned by Amedia.

But being there with Pål Nedregotten, Jostein Larsen, and Stine Holberg was a privilege. Their story about the cultural change from old-school newsrooms to driven-data news organisations specialised in video-streaming sports events is well known, but it was worth the flight up there to hear it from their own main characters. They have a newsroom with three reporters and 3,000 digital subscribers! The way Hoberg and her team coach their 70+ newsrooms is simply impressive.

4. It was interesting to learn how Mittmedia, the big regional Swedish group, makes everything. Robin Govik (who, by the way, lives on an island close to the North Pole!) leads a team of really talented people. The company has had some really good ideas and just run with them.

One of Govik’s ideas received the biggest “wow” effect of the week. I’m sorry, but you will have to visit them to hear about it.

5. Everything goes fast at Expressen (Bonnier in Stockholm). The team focuses on breaking news, and this strategy permeates the entire company culture.

Study tour participants pose for a group photo at Expressen in Stockholm.
Study tour participants pose for a group photo at Expressen in Stockholm.

If the company has to change the newsroom architecture, does it hire three consulting companies and spend lots of Swedish crowns over the course of six months? No, it just sends half a dozen of its smartest people abroad for one week. On Monday morning, when they are back home (and still getting over jet lag), they do a quick briefing meeting, and in a couple of weeks the masons are making news in the newsroom.

It was an amazing study tour with amazing people.