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Presenter: Markus Rask Jensen, Director of News, Amedia

March 6, 2024

Freeing up newsroom time: How Amedia’s AI sandbox will allow reporters to do more

At the end of February, Amedia launched an AI sandbox, a safe environment for all journalists in the Norwegian local media group to test and use generative AI for various time saving tasks. The objective is to enable more and better journalism by letting reporters use the AI as an assistant, meaning they can spend additional time out in the community covering even more important, local stories. The sandbox environment also has a trust dimension – by setting it up Amedia acts as a guarantor of safe AI use for the purposes of their local journalism. As an additional bonus, Amedia wants their more than 1000 journalists with their use of the new sandbox to help guide their product development organically.

Presented by Markus Rask Jensen, Director of News

By Cecilia Campbell

“AI can never get local people to tell their story”

Background and context of the job to be done

Amedia encompasses 120 news titles across the entire length of Norway, with 1000 journalists on the ground in local newsrooms and communities. The principal business model is subscriptions, and the group has over 700,000 subscribers, generating 2 million daily readers in a country of 4.3 million adults. 


Markus Rask Jensen has spent many years working in local newsrooms, but as of 2023 he is part of the central Amedia team, which supports the local teams. “The local newsrooms are our core, and that will never change. Everything we do centrally is geared to solving problems that arise locally.” 


"When it comes to AI specifically, the development of the sandbox is not something we do to gain efficiencies to produce more of the same generic content. This is about freeing up journalists time – to support the meeting between humans, presence in local communities, our local identity.”


With the economic downturn, resources in newsrooms around the world are getting squeezed. “This is a problem we have to solve – how do we serve our readers with fewer resources? While at the same time they expect more from us, as they compare us to other content and entertainment providers.”

On a side note: Amedia has been using AI for many years, and has had a dedicated central AI team since 2018, working around processes such as data analysis, personalisation and functionality like converting audio-to-text.

So one reason for the new sandbox is to help journalists with routine work, allowing them to spend more time with sources and stories in the community. The other reason to create an inhouse AI environment is to do with trust. Markus Rask Jensen pointed out that trust is the currency of journalism, and safe use of AI is key for trust. Amedia has set up guidelines for the use of generative AI, aimed at helping local editors, who are ultimately responsible for how they want AI to be used in their newsrooms. The sandbox is a sort of physical (albeit digital!) manifestation of the guidelines – this is a safe environment for journalists to experiment and use AI.

“We want to experiment with editorial use of AI in a safe and protected environment. And in terms of the bigger picture here – we need to protect our content; subscriptions drive most of our revenue. We’ve deliberately been careful when it comes to feeding content from behind our paywall into LLMs. With our own AI system we’re in control of input and output,” said Markus.

What is the tool and how is it used?

This is what Amedia’s AI hub looks like:


The vision

“A set of tools that helps our journalists become better at their jobs, more efficient and enables them to spend more time meeting real people – to write stories from the real world.”

The team

In terms of organisation, the project is driven by two initiative leads in the central organisation. There are eight editorial participants, working as ambassadors in a number of the local newsrooms. All 1000 journalists are encouraged to use the tool, but on a voluntary basis. “We’re not saying you have to use it, which I know some of Schibsted’s titles have done. We don’t want to do that, we'd rather try to inspire them to use it. But to be fair, I don’t think journalists realistically can avoid using AI tools today.

The tool

Markus Rask Jensen did a short demo of the sandbox tool – do watch the video for this! 
It’s plugged into three Large Language Models including ChatGPT4 and Google Gemini. The user interface is reminiscent of the now familiar ChatGPT interface, with space for prompts and answers. There are also a number of shortcuts in the shape of buttons at the top, to functions like summaries, headline suggestions and text-to-audio. 

In addition to providing a safe environment which enables control of input and output, the sandbox also leverages what Markus called the “Journalistic hive mind of Amedia.” As journalists use the tool, the usage is logged. This allows the organic use by journalists to guide further development of functionality. So far the usage patterns shows that chatting with headlines is the most popular feature.


It’s up to the local editors how they communicate to readers about the use of AI in the production of the journalism, but the central guidelines encourage complete transparency. “We recommend that whenever the AI tool has been used, you tell readers: 'This article was produced with the help of AI tools'. This is a really important part of the trust I mentioned.”

What is next?

Markus foresees a rapid development of new functionality. The team had a brainstorming session around new ideas, see below:


The fact checker is being worked on now. This is to help with the hallucinations prevalent in LLM output. “The reason LLMs hallucinate is because they predict. But they can only predict based on the context you give them. If you anchor the information they are to use, you can use them to fact check. It’s a different kind of model – basically instead of asking all the training data of ChatGPT who is the mayor of Tromsø, you anchor a verified source of information, which the LLM will then use,” said Markus.


The autowriter is also coming – in short this is a tool to quickly write up a basic article on a defined story, e g a coming weather front. With the AI tool taking care of the base article writing, the reporter has time to talk to sources locally to build the story out.

Summary of why Amedia built their own AI sandbox

– Flexibility in terms of third party providers

– Ensures data security through the use of secure login

– Cost efficiency and control

– Amedia gains knowledge of business needs and potential use cases through use patterns

– A chance for journalists to organically help guide the direction of the product development 

– A way to ensure that they spread expertise throughout the organization

Markus Rask Jensen emphasised that to create a basic sandbox is not a huge technical project. “The main body of work for our project took 1-2 people about a month to do, and not full time. I think a newsroom could hire developers to spend 10–15 hours to set up a safe generative AI environment like this.”

Useful links and contact information

  • The case is about Norwegian local media group Amedia

  • Get a feel for their local journalism (whether you speak Norwegian or not) at one of their titles, such as Glåmdalen Firdaposten or Lofot Tidende

E-mail address to Markus Rask Jensen who presented the case and can reply to questions. 

His presentation slides are here.



Report: Practical AI for Local Media. Published 2023 by Media Voices in the UK. Lots of cases and best practices (pre-GenAI) on use cases like personalisation and content automation.


JournalismAI. Initiative operated out of the London School of Economics since 2019. Lots of resources, including a database of cases.

The team around Professor Nick Diakopoulos at Northwestern University has put together a very useful overview of newsroom guidelines on generative AI from a couple of dozen newsrooms. They have also set up a webpage as a hub for resources around generative AI in the newsroom.

The Local Media Association has just published a Strategic Guide for Publishers in the Age of AI Search.

You can also contact Cecilia at the WAN-IFRA Innovate Local team if you have questions.


If you know of other relevant cases that are similar, please let us know, and we will add them here. Thanks in advance!

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