The outlet's legacy is now one of its biggest problems standing in the way of maintaining a mobile-first mindset in its day-to-day operations.
"We have some 60 pages to fill every day," said Päivi Anttikoski, editor-in-chief, speaking at News Xchange on Thursday.
"If the news situation is not so great, we still have to fill the paper."
This leads to poor quality stories – an issue many legacy organisations will also come up against, whether they are trying to fill a newspaper on a slow news day or to get video packages on air.
One day in September, 42 per cent of the stories Helsingin Sanomat published on its website generated only 7 per cent of page views, revealed Anttikoski.
Having to produce this "legacy content" is "the main reason that keeps us from creating better digital, mobile content."
"We would be better at digital if we didn't have to produce the paper."
Digitally native media organisations like NowThis News, who publishes around 60 videos a day for example, are "lucky" – Helsingin Sanomat can publish twice as many stories a day.
So how is the outlet trying to turn things around? Rethinking the home page is one idea on the table, said Esa Mäkinen, news editor for data and interactives.
Adding videos that are playable on the homepage, as well as introducing microblogging segments in the style of the Guardian live blog are some directions the site could go in to make the front page "more interesting".
And Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project is also an interesting proposition, as "we can always take the open source code and make it our own."
"[But] we need to rethink our core product, the article. We have to come up with something radically new," said Mäkinen.
"We also have to try new formats," said Anttikoski, pointing to 360 degree videos as an interesting medium to explore. "If nobody else has it, they have to come to you."
Helsingin Sanomat operates a paywall, so its videos have to be driven by data or facts to offer value. The outlet has also been publishing interactive tools built very soon after the related story broke.
A two-hour turnaround time is down to "template thinking", explained Mäkinen. The outlet has built "a lot of templates that can be used and reused really fast", but it has also trained its journalists to think about these templates and how they can be used for storytelling.
"It's not only skills that need to improve," he said.
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