Agderposten is a regional daily newspaper that serves over 25,000 readers in print across Norway, publishing 30 to 60 pages daily. Its editors were spending a great deal of effort designing the newspaper each evening. Its leaders saw this as a significant problem and decided to look for a solution that would give the editors back the time they needed to focus on creating digital content instead of working on the tedious print production process.
Was there a way to produce camera-ready pages that looked and felt like they had been created by experienced designers and editors — but were actually autonomously powered by Artificial Intelligence?
The Globe and Mail had been working on solving the Artificial Intelligence challenges at the heart of this problem (through a suite of solutions called Sophi.io) when we were introduced to Agderposten by Naviga. We were offered the chance to build something new as part of a partnership to push the boundaries of what was possible with AI in a newsroom.
Agderposten agreed to be the pilot customer for Naviga Publisher powered by Sophi.io, a cutting-edge automated print laydown solution, to increase its ability to be more competitive in the digital space by saving time and money on the print side of the business.
It wanted to reduce the costs of print production by 25%, namely the hours and the number of people required, and automate at least 25% of its print process to give much-needed time back to its editors. It also wasn’t willing to sacrifice the look and feel of its high-quality daily print newspaper.
This joint venture between The Globe and Mail and Naviga frees the newsroom from the constraints of how it builds pages. The AI engine doesn’t use templates. Publisher designs each page from scratch following a design vocabulary and a set of rules that are encoded in the AI — something high-volume, high-production operations see as a dramatic change. These guidelines are subtle and more flexible, but still look and feel like human decisions because they aren’t tied to a rigid template.
Naviga Publisher powered by Sophi.io made it so Agderposten’s editors can simply hit the print button and be done; they receive a print-ready PDF and an InDesign file. They can also alter the newspaper in any way they want as news breaks, then rerun the automation process within a minute (not the hours it took pre-automation) — on either the entire newspaper or just the pages they want to update.
Results worth reporting
Agderposten realised a 66% reduction in time and resources, lowering the cost of producing the printed newspaper and reassigning journalists to create digital content rather than operate InDesign. “It’s hours saved for journalism,” said Agderposten’s Editor-in-chief Katrine Lia.
The AI solution is now automating up to 80% of Agderposten’s pages. The company was so delighted with the success of its first newspaper, it started using Naviga Publisher powered by Sophi.io with four more of its newspapers and signed up another 15 newspapers to use Publisher this year.
What is also interesting is that in blind tests between pages laid down by human editors vs. the AI, no one at Agderposten can tell the difference — and senior staff often prefer the AI-placed pages.
The trend Agderposten began is picking up speed as other publications around the world also begin to use Naviga Publisher powered by Sophi.io.