Aftonbladet shares 3 lessons learned from its new AI hub

By Martin Schori


Stockholm, Sweden


Aftonbladet, founded in 1830 and with a daily reach of more than 4 million unique visitors (out of a population of 10 million), has always strived to be at the forefront of technology. For example, when we realised that the iPhone was going to be the next big thing in 2007, we ordered and handed out devices to all our employees.

Similarly, when the Artificial Intelligence boom started in late 2022, we quickly realised our desire to explore this new technology — and that we needed everyone at Aftonbladet on board.

Ideas on what we wanted to do were plentiful, but resources were scarce (does that sound familiar?). Moreover, the pace at which technology evolved was astonishing.

We soon acknowledged that to see tangible results, an entity above the standard organisational structure was necessary. Thus, the concept of an AI hub was born.

Aftonbladet created its own AI hub to explore and experiment with AI solutions.
Aftonbladet created its own AI hub to explore and experiment with AI solutions.

Harnessing the future

Last October, after offering every Aftonbladet employee the chance to apply, we launched the hub. Seven employees — four journalists, one UX designer, and two software developers — were disconnected from their ordinary jobs and worked full time to: 

  • Identify, experiment with, and implement AI solutions at Aftonbladet to enhance and enliven our work processes.
  • Ensure Aftonbladet’s use of AI is responsible and transparent.
  • Educate the entire Aftonbladet organisation about AI, as the responsibility shouldn’t fall on just these seven individuals.

Five months in, we have seen magnificent results. Some examples:

  • We launched an “AI Buffet” with tools developed in-house and custom GPTs. The tools include a “Buddy reader” that proofreads and gives feedback on sentence structure, finds repetitions, and finds weaknesses in reasoning. They also include “The Youth Assistant,” a tool that creates fact boxes and timelines with instructions that young people should understand, and various SEO optimisation tools.
  • We have educated everyone at Aftonbladet in our “How to become a prompt queen” and launched several other workshops and courses in AI.
  • We are developing our first chatbot that will hopefully be ready to be launched for Aftonbladet’s readers this spring

What we’ve learned (so far)

Since launching the hub, we have learned several things: 

• Even when the developed tools offer clear advantages and benefits, their adoption within the newsroom requires persuasion. Several factors contribute to this reluctance: ongoing queries about the potential and limitations of AI, the technology’s nascent imperfections, and the constant busyness of reporters and editors. While further education is beneficial, it alone does not rectify the issue.

• Initiating an AI hub was a positive step. Its members will evolve into specialists who disseminate their knowledge. However, for a genuine transformation of our operations, such endeavours are insufficient. Business leaders must wholeheartedly adopt AI and spearhead this transformation. The hub and similar initiatives can be of help but they do not have the mandate to drive real change.

• Stop talking about AI! Well, perhaps not entirely. But as is well known, AI is not an end; it’s a tool that aids us in achieving our goals. We need personalisation to stay relevant. And for that, we require more content, despite not increasing our editorial staff. We also need to cut costs and discover new revenue streams. Here, AI can undoubtedly assist. But perhaps the focus should shift from the technology itself to the objectives it helps us attain.

About Martin Schori

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