Sophi Automated Print Laydown
2021 Finalist

Sophi Automated Print Laydown

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Canada

Category Product Development

Overview of this campaign

Agderposten is a 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 to lay down 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 journalism, instead of 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 built by automation powered by artificial intelligence?

The Globe and Mail had been working on solving the AI challenges at the heart of this problem (through a suite of tools that we call Sophi) when we were introduced to Agderposten by Naviga.

Agderposten agreed to be the pilot customer for Naviga Publisher powered by Sophi, an automated print laydown solution. Agderposten worked with Sophi and Naviga to get to the point where all they needed to lay down the print section was a “Print My Newspaper” button.

Agderposten’s editors would select the content they would like to see in print and roughly prioritise it. They could also specify how much of the page they’d like to devote to a particular article. Then, all they had to do mark the story as available for the print edition, and save. 

Within Naviga’s system, Sophi ran all the AI work behind the scenes within one minute to create the print-ready pages without using any templates while maintaining the look and feel of the newspaper. Agderposten’s editors could hit the print button and be done, or alter the paper in any way they wanted as news broke, then rerun the automated process within a minute – on either the entire paper or just on the pages they wanted to update.

Results for this campaign

“With Naviga Publisher and Sophi, creating an entire layout for 44-50 pages takes just minutes, which potentially gives content producers more time to work on their articles before having to go to layout,” said Agderposten Editor-in-Chief Øyvind Klausen.

The new print process automates up to 80% of Agderposten’s editorial pages. Agderposten has been so impressed that it is looking to add more papers and partners to the automated process now: three local papers, a regional paper, and 20 additional partners.

 “Sophi and Naviga Publisher have enabled our news organization to develop the same high-quality newspaper with fewer resources. This enables us to re-allocate those resources to driving better content and increased subscriptions. And the newspaper still looks like Agderposten – we can’t tell the difference between pages laid out autonomously and those laid out by the newsroom,” said Bjørn Robert Knudsen, Director of Technology at Agderposten.

The model can test millions of combinations of content, images, pull quotes, preambles and graphical items on a page to come up with the best version. To make all the content fit, the automation autonomously can:

  • Change the size of headlines, including kerning.
  • Add, remove, shrink, enlarge, or crop photos.
  • Test running an article in, say, one long column versus spreading it across multiple short columns. 
  • Add or remove stylistic details like horizontal lines.

Using natural language processing, Sophi understands which articles are thematically related and places them on the same page or adjacent pages. If editors want the newspaper to draw primarily on staff content and use wire only as filler, Sophi understands this hierarchy as well. It also takes care of zoning and editioning.

Editors receive a Slack notification that shows them which articles have been selected for placement on various pages and are able to manually override any algorithmic choices. This information is fed back into the machine-learning model so it can make better decisions in the future.



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