Zetland prides itself as an innovative and different type of news organisation. Members are at the centre of everything it does – from software development, over marketing campaigns and customer acquisition to editorial processes, sources, editing, and writing.
Its award-winning initiatives will be discussed at the World News Media Congress in Taipei this June. As part of the build up, we asked CEO Tav Klitgaard five questions.
What is working well that the rest of the industry could emulate?
We’re setting ourselves apart in the way we tell stories. We fill the two age-old news needs of: a) telling our audience what happens in the world, and b) inspiring them to be interested in society.
However, we do this in an engaging tone-of-voice, and using state-of-the-art distribution technology, such as our own audio distribution. Focusing on what is actually important, telling constructive stories, and doing so in an engaging way that makes it stand out from home work, means that a very young audience is willing to pay to subscribe to our service.
How young is your audience?
Our target audience is all curious Danes (really), but… I find the most underserved audience to be under 40, and so I am quite proud that around 50% of our paying members are <35 years old, around 30% of them are under 30. I often think of a 28 year old DINK nurse or auto mechanic in rural Denmark as the ideal new member.
What is your biggest challenge?
Like all rapidly growing organisations, we were struggling to maintain an innovative culture. We have successfully attracted innovative talent, and are working very hard to retain a culture where decisions are distributed, and innovation and risk-taking is rewarded.
You already use AI in your newsroom – how?
I believe ‘AI’ is now like ‘computer’: yes, we use it for all sorts of things, from spelling control over transcriptions and legal documents to idea generation. We even built our own AI-powered transcription service, Good Tape, which we’ve released as a free tool for anyone to use; it can be downloaded at mygoodtape.com.
Do you see uses for generative AI in your newsroom?
Yea, definitely. I see AI as an exoskeleton for not only our journalists, but also marketing, legal, tech, and administrative teams. I use it to generate business ideas, legal documents, travel plans etc, and our newsroom uses it to generate crazy ideas (where it’s sometimes much better than a boring human brain), to test headlines, to create story outlines and much, much more.
Founded in 2016 in Denmark, as a daily digital newspaper by legacy media journalists who quit their jobs to focus on how to “make news less stupid and journalism more beneficial to society”, Zetland has successfully pushed digital media’s boundaries by giving audiences control over their daily news consumption.
It has been publishing in both text and audio format since 2017, with the option of switching between formats halfway through a story. It has won international acclaim for its audio journalism, user experience, live journalism, and groundbreaking work on establishing a business model for journalism that is funded, supported and driven forward by its members.
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