Credit: Created using Magic Media, a generative AI app by Canva

When talking about artificial intelligence in the newsroom, there is too much focus on the technology and not enough on what it actually does. We want to help journalists, technophiles or technophobes, to explore this topic in an accessible way. So we are launching a second series of "I am a journalist, what can AI do for me?" that brings stories from your peers who work with editorial robots.

NRK, the largest public broadcaster in Norway, faces the same challenge as most media internationally - declining engagement of younger audiences.

Its research confirmed what other studies have found: Gen Z strongly favours formats that break down complicated stories and make them easier to read.

Read more: What will your audience want in the future?

The team led by Ida Anna Haugen, head of editorial innovation at NRK, started to manually add bullet-pointed summaries at the beginning of each article. This allows the reader to see the main points of the story at a glance so they can decide whether it is worth delving into.

The summary sits between the main image and the article. The "view more" button, which opens the summary box, allows NRK to track user interaction with the feature.

"We were worried that people would just read the summary but it was exactly the opposite," says Haugen.

As the tool showed potential, NRK reached for automation to speed up the process. Only a few months into the experiment, the team was impressed with the results. People who read the summary spend on average 60 seconds on an article, compared to 27 seconds for those who do not. One in five users click on the summary box to read the bullet points and the highest proportion of readers who use this feature are the under-30s.

NRK piloted this project last year in two newsrooms without facing much pushback, since the company was focused on engaging younger readers and the team had convincing data on hand. Making editors an active part of tool design and implementation and listening to their needs also helped to get them on board.

Another advantage of using automated but human-proofread summaries is that the broadcaster gets good SEO suggestions. Given the drop in social traffic, the summaries and better SEO are hoped to make up for the fall.

The tool also has limitations. For instance, it is not used for breaking news and you will also not find it on top of beautifully crafted long reads as to not spoil the user experience.

This series is supported by Utopia Analytics, a Finnish company that enables AI-automated moderation in any language of reader comments and cuts down the publishing delay. Inappropriate behaviour, bullying, hate speech, discrimination, sexual harassment and spam are filtered out 24/7 so teams can focus on moderation policy management & engage with readers. Utopia Analytics has no editorial input in the series.

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