Ideas and think pieces that still stick from the year gone by – on burnout, the environment, long term thinking, media and more

As an experiment, what about looking at the think pieces and ideas that still stick from 2023 – rather than the newest new thing or predicting trends that may or may not come to pass?

For me, some of the articles I still think about, that still resonate from last year focus on issues such as sustainable success, cognitive overload and how to protect against it, neuroscience, long term thinking, journalists traumatized by work, the end of platforms, the environment – and how burned out people will keep burning down the planet.

In other words, I’m thinking of the big picture and how we can better equip ourselves for meeting the many complex problems we face today in a sustainable way – both on the micro and macro level, both as individuals and through companies, organsations and societies.

And as for burnout, I’m not planning to get on a high horse here – I’ve had at least one major burnout early in life, probably a few smaller ones later, and I learnt valuable lessons from it all - but I read this poignant and moving post on the topic in December, one that still resonates with me.

I attended a deeply fascinating debate on consciousness, work culture and work life at the start of December (expertly  organized by Guro Røberg), and stumbled across this piece by one of the eloquent panelists, Snorre Vikingsen, published on the same day, on why he crashed and why that was a good thing (Linkedin):

“How Ironic. Giving a talk on the business of burning out, advocating for a more balanced working culture, and not realizing that I was at the brink of burnout myself,” he wrote.

“Burned out people will keep burning up the planet’ is a slogan highlighting the interconnectedness of human health and planetary stewardship coined by Ariana Huffington. In a nutshell it connects humanity’s inability to create environmental sustainability with work pressure and the exhausting performance mindset.

“How can we create great conditions on the outside If we are unable to create great conditions on the inside?... Burnout symptoms affect cognitive functions, especially the prefrontal cortex, which governs long-term decision-making.” Full post here (on Linkedin).

Or as Huffington wrote herself: “When we’re burned out, exhausted and depleted, we operate on short-termism and day-to-day survival, just trying to get through the day, or even just the next hour. We’re not just less able to create new and more sustainable habits, we’re also unable to think about the future, make the wisest decisions for the long term and come up with creative and innovative solutions to complex challenges — like climate change.”

This reminds me of an old, favorite quote of mine, often misattributed to Ghandi: “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another,” Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

A few main issues here are short-termism, cognitive overload and the interconnectedness of human health and planetary stewardship – or the interconnectedness of everything, if you like.

Adam Tinworth wrote well on this in his piece on how “Long-term thinking is our best weapon against the permacrisis”.

“The major part of the pandemic’s impact on our lives is now over. So, why aren’t we truly back to long-term thinking? Well, sadly, crisis became permacrisis. Even as the worst of the pandemic wound down, the sudden outbreak of war in Europe and its impact on supply chains and energy supply kept us focusing on the now. We had a new problem to manage, a new crisis to resolve.

It kept us reactive.”

Or, in Johann Hari’s words:

“As a species, we are facing a slew of unprecedented tripwires and trapdoors – like the climate crisis – and, unlike previous generations, we are mostly not rising to solve our biggest challenges. Why? Part of the reason, I think, is that when attention breaks down, problem-solving breaks down. Solving big problems requires the sustained focus of many people over many years."

The quote is from his book “Stolen focus: Why you can’t pay attention”, which I read, enjoyed and blogged about last year (in Norwegian). The book has been portrayed as a book on how social media is stealing our focus, but it’s basically looking at how social media is ONE of many things potentially stealing our focus and undermining our concentration – AND how to reclaim it.

That last bit, about how to reclaim it, is equally important, especially after the digital overload of the pandemic world.

And the answer does of course not have to mean to abstain from all the things potentially stealing our focus – but to be aware of the challenges, balance use, find more chunks of time for uninterrupted work etc.

Another way to phrase that is to lead a more balanced life, be more conscious and restrictive of your media / social media consumption etc. That’s not always easy as a journalist, as being up to speed on things can be such a big focus of your work.

It may seem odd to a non-journalist, but I remember having to wean myself off stuff like watching terrorist attacks unfolding live on Twitter (by way of Twitter updates) back when I moved on to a non-journalism job.

Twitter, back in its heyday, was such an excellent tool for keeping up on unfolding news of that kind.

But what kind of content and the amount of it we consume will of course impact us. To an extent you can use techniques to counterbalance it all, but it’s vital to be conscious of the impact and how to alleviate it.

That is why another great read from last year was Joanna Geary’s post on resiliency and leadership:

“Working my way up in local news, I met so many people traumatised by the work. From the reporter who relayed to me harrowing details of arriving to victims of a house fire before emergency services; or the editors who learned it was not ok to talk about the stress of doing more with less so instead turned to alcohol or painkillers among other things.

“When it comes to supporting people in news, we could and should have done a lot better sooner. But we didn’t." She goes on to offer sage advice on ways to address this.

On this topic, Headlines Network founder Hannah Storm gave an excellent talk on how newsroom leaders need to step up their commitments on mental health and wellbeing of staff (I was also delighted to be able to stream her talk on a similar topic at the Perugia Journalism Festival):

“Everybody's emotional load varies, but many colleagues tell me they are exhausted. Burnout is classed by the World Health Organisation as an occupational hazard, and it is forcing people to leave our industry…

“…Sadly, one of the most common concerns I hear from colleagues – anywhere – is they are still scared that admitting they are distressed will prevent them from getting the next promotion, or story. And yet, it can be transformational for all of us when people feel safe sharing their stories.” Ultimately, trauma in the aftermath of a terror attack was a major reason why I left journalism for my current job - so it’s so good to see people like Storm address these issues.

Then there was this piece on on energy, “Burnout - a consequence of a very good life?” (in Norwegian):

“Unfortunately, and fortunately, we are designed so that we can pull the energy master card and use more energy than we actually have when the going gets tough. But borrowed energy also has sky-high interest rates," the author wrote.

That’s hardly controversial.

But he argues that spending energy on “healthy” things like working out or hanging out with friends to compensate for things like a demanding job and a demanding family life may not work – that you ultimately cannot get energy by spending energy. Nor, he argues, can healthy habits prevent burnout if you commit to way too much in too many areas of life.

Perhaps all this is self-evident, but the article offered plenty of food for thought for me. For me, a thing like exercise is certainly a source of energy and something that feels essential to a good life – but yes, I have overdone that as well, so I guess it’s all about the overall balance.      

Another big topic I keep reflecting on, more related to my professional life, is the end of platforms. It’s easy to quip that this may solve the issue of social media stealing focus, except of course we’re just moving into a more fragmented social media landscape. Another way to look at it is, as Kevin Anderson wrote in this insightful piece “The Platform Era is ending, and the AI era is just beginning”.

Incidentally, ALL of the media debates I attended, and blogged about, last year was on AI – not to mention this brilliant one just before Christmas (in Norwegian).

But in addition to its many benefits, AI raises a whole new set of challenges – not at least, from an environmental perspective, considering how much energy it consumes. That is, if not new research, such as this on Atomic Layer Depostion (in Norwegian), comes to the rescue.

This is all in addition to all the other challenges we face ahead: Europe’s water crisis: how supplies turned to ‘gold dust’ (FT, paywall), the crisis in earth quality (in Norwegian), in biodiversity, the wars, the state of the world…

So many hard, complex challenges to solve – we really need full focus, undivided attention, and health to be able to tackle these... 


The hidden power of social media algorithms

“Social Media is not really a filter bubble but a boxing ring: You are both bonding with people with similar values, views, interests and in conflict with people with opposing views.”

The quote belongs to techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, today a professor at Columbia University.

I've recently read two books - "Stolen focus: Why you can't pay attention" by Johann Hari and "Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to go Viral" by former Buzzfeed-editor Ben Smith - that both strongly reminded me of an excellent talk Tufekci gave in Oslo late 2019.

I almost always take notes from such occasions, but for some reason I did't blog about the talk back then, but since it's still relevant and interesting (re: those books and ongoing debates) I thought I'd just post those notes now. The talk was called "The hidden power of algorithms".

The caveat? The following are my superquick notes from a super interesting debate. All speakers were very eloquent, but I’ve just jotted down the essentials.

ZT: I grew up in Turkey and it influenced my work. As a kid I was very interested in maths, physics etc. I picked a practical topic that could give me a job with no political dilemmas - so I majored in programming.

Now obviously very wrong: I find myself in the middle of all these ethical dilemmas.

Worked for IBM in Turkey. Was a coup in Turkey = media very censored. But through my work for IBM I could go on IBMs intranet and people would answer all my questions - people from all around the world would answer her questions.

I thought: If we can talk to one another like this it will change everything - and it did.

Internet opened up the world for me.

The Internet was designed for a community of people who trusted each other: For academics at CERN.

Very few, if any, of them had an idea this would end up being the infrastructure of the global internet. I don't think there is one scientific breakthrough where we don't have problems.

A couple of things happened, like the ad financing of the public sphere. No intention of creating something bad. I know one of these who invented the ad model: Ethan Zuckermann, and he's very sorry.

There are countries where Facebook is the internet, like Indonesia.

To make the ad model effective you need SCALE. You need millions of people and you need to be everywhere.

A lot of data is the other thing you need - in order to personalize recommendations etc.

These issues create the whole infrastucture problem.

The business model locks in all of this.

We also have AI. When they say AI today they almost always mean machine learning or deep learning.

In machine learning we're feeding in enormous amounts of data and tell machines to go figure out / optimize this data - and we don't understand it.

The turning point is 2012 for machine learning - a major paper/ study published about identifying cats.

(In 2012, Google made a breakthrough: It trained its AI to recognize cats in YouTube videos. Google’s neural network, software which uses statistics to approximate how the brain learns, taught itself to detect the shapes of cats and humans with more than 70% accuracy.  It was a 70% improvement over any other machine learning at the time )

Google then starts using this technnology to make money, to optimize Youtube to keep you longer on the site. It's a story of how Youtube "lost its mind".

I researched Trump on Youtube, incl. watched his rallies to get quotes accurate - and then Youtube "lost its mind" and started to recommend white supremacy things.

I started doing the same type of research with other candidates like Hillary Clinton or Sanderson - and a similar thing happened: Youtube did not recommend white supremacy stuff but it was sending me more  towards leftwing conspiracy stuff.

What's happening here is that the machine learning algorithm has figured something out: That conspiracy, polarising content is ENGAGING and keeps people on the site longer.

The design of all social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, is that they’re designed to keep me on the page as long as possible. Social Media not really a filter bubble but a boxing ring: You're both bonding with people with similar values, views, interests and in conflict with people with opposing views.

Machine learning can do wonderful things - but you can do all sorts of analysis at scale (like gayness etc) and governments are going to use this for social control.

Youtube has curbed some of this to some degree after various research on this. But you can only curb it to a certain degree if you want to optimize a site for engagement.

These platforms are building a public sphere to keep us on the site - using data, AI, machine learning – it’s not a healthy public sphere.

This is also happening in countries lacking the democratic infrastructure we have, like Indonesia etc. Facebook and social media platforms do not create the ethnic conflicts there, but they are adding fire to existing conflicts and exacerbating them.

I think this is superfixable. We've solved much tougher problems before.

On the ashes of the World War 2 there was a lot of thought that went into building democratic institutions to prevent it ever happening again.

I don't think GDPR is going to fix this. GDPR is focused on individual consent: Can I get your data? At the individual level it makes sense to give away your data say e.g. for a new avatar.

The public sphere is something we all live in. If we allow every individual to use cars, we are going to get pollution.

I would like to see us regulate social media at the public goods level. People say data is oil. We cannot allow this very lucrative accidental business model to be our public sphere.

The people who go into computer science is often people who like to solve closed puzzles - the opposite of what today's technology really is like.

We need a new kind of education that teach both.


Professor Petter Bae Brandtzæg: On FB we are triggered to use system 1 of thinking, re: Kahnemanns ideas on thinking systems 1 and 2) all the time. Even intelligent ppl do studpid things on FB

ZT: When FB switched to the engagement model/ recommendation engine their numbers went way up. Absolutely increase the time people are using on the platforms

Think we see subsets of people - like some people (vulnerable) use WAY more time /drags up the average. In the US middle schoolers often get Chrome books - very hard to disable Youtube on them. AN have this survey that shows Youtube is THE go-to-thing for middle schoolers

Some may not be affected by the engagement model (like, they have parents who counterbalance it etc.) but we’ll have kids where parents are not present. Poor xx with little awareness/ few democratic institutions - gonna affect vulnerable populations and people

Professor Bente Kalsnes: Mainly young people who get their news on FB. Fake news have a tendency to be more exciting, more engaging etc. On FB we see more focus on friends than who published the news and what the source is

ZT: I don't think Zuckerberg should be the one to decide what we get to see on the public sphere. I think this is a political issue, not a descision to be made by the CEO of one company.

If FB find a snippet of copyrighted content they'll take it down asap. But extremist content? I think FB has got better, at least for English language content

It's super complicated, but compare it to other industries we have regulated - say e. g. food or adding lead to food to preserve it - social media is a very regulatable industry. Having a healthy public sphere is a political issue.

RIP pioneering blogger Dooce, the cost of exposure and implications of ambient intimacy

I was deeply saddened to read about the suicide of pioneering blogger and influencer Heather Armstrong, aka Dooce, recently. The simple fact that I felt so sad to learn of the death of a woman whose blog I used to read ages ago, reminded me of two great terms to describe two key effects of the early social web: ambient intimacy and ambient exposure.

I was alerted to the news of her death, at 47, by this brilliant post by Adam Tinworth: "The queen of mummy bloggers, the first influencer… Call her what you will, the tragic loss of Heather Armstrong means that one of the web's true pioneers is gone…

"...Heather didn’t just write about her children, although the candour and conversational prose style she used thoroughly changed how people talked about motherhood online. Her voice was unique, and compelling. She built an audience — and then grew closer to them as she wrote about her battles with depression, and, eventually, her struggle with alcohol addiction," he writes.

Armstrong launched Dooce in 2001. “At its peak, just after Armstrong appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009, Dooce had a monthly 8.5 million readers, and the blog was reportedly earning as much as $40,000 a month from banner ads,” according to this profile by Vice.

For me, Dooce was a blog I came across and started following early when I started using social media, say somewhere between 2003 and 2005, and a blog that used to live in my RSS-reader – at least back in the days Bloglines was alive. I must have come across her blog via the blog roll of a blog I followed, or perhaps via a blog post, and enjoyed her voice.

I don’t quite remember when I stopped reading her, it must have been more than a decade ago: Perhaps because she took a hiatus from her blog, perhaps when I switched RSS-readers.

But the news of her death felt personal because I must have read her blog, and through that her deeply personal musings on very wide range of topics, many deeply personal, for many years. She’s someone I’ve "known" personally, without knowing personally at all – like so many people in the blogosphere of old.

Which brings me to the terms “ambient intimacy” and “ambient exposure” coined by Leisa Reichelt in a blog post in 2007 (I stumbled across the terms via Jeff Jarvis and blogged about them, though Reichelt’s own blog doesn’t seem to work anymore):

“…ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn't usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible.”

“Reichelt also talks about the flipside of this, ambient exposure: the publicness that makes this possible but also creates some vulnerability. And each force us to define our societies, the people we want to share with: one person on an email, a few people in a chat, a defined group in Facebook or Pownce, a group we don’t define (if we’re public) in Twitter, anyone at all in a blog.

These two terms neatly sum up key pros and cons of social media to me:

“Ambient intimacy” is one of the best terms I’ve come across to describe the way social media often leaves you with a strong feeling of “knowing” someone you do not really know through their blog or social media profiles (though I have also met many of the people I’ve met online physically and feel I know them a bit better for it).

“Ambient exposure” points to the potential hazards and woes of exposing so much of yourself and your vulnerabilities via social media, especially when your content goes viral as Dooce certainly experienced.

I mean, 8.5 million monthly viewers. That’s a massive number of viewers, and perhaps one at odds with the term “ambient”. I’ve been reading Ben Smith’s engaging book “Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral” recently, and found the book, which chronicles the rise and fall of BuzzFeed News and Gawker media group, engrossing.

For someone who’ve followed social and digital media closely since 2002/2003, it’s a fascinating walk down memory lane, and Dooce, intentionally or not, was a part of the media landscape the book describes vividly - and at times harshly. The Gawker blogs, for one, was known for their “bitchy, breezy, snarky, chatty style”, and her blog must have been a topic there at times – it may even have been where I first came across her blog. Bloggers made the news back then (both in old school and new school news outlets), as they do now. Dooce attracted a lot of exposure.

“It’s very difficult to tell whether sharing her issues online was a useful form of catharsis, or something that amplified the difficulties she faced. I suspect many papers and theses will be written in the coming decade by academics exploring the impact on selfhood of living in this way,” writes Adam.

Penelope Trunk takes a harsher view. She mentions an interesting sounding book:

“John Gallagher wrote his dissertation about how people with a large following online relate to comments from their audience. Over many years he interviewed people who were top Redditors, top Amazon reviewers, and he interviewed Heather and me…  Gallagher’s book came out in 2020: Update Culture and the Afterlife of Digital Writing.” Certainly, something for my TBR-list.

However, ambient doesn’t really translate well in Norwegian – the best synonyms I could find, which translates a bit better, are enveloping, encircles, enfolds, or surrounds.

In an article from 2015, Reichelt also seems to say the term doesn’t quite fit anymore: “Over the last seven years, ambient intimacy—along with the Internet itself—has changed. Somewhere along the line, it broke out of its ambiance.”

“…I don't think my definition has changed. But the world where that definition made sense has definitely passed,” Reichelt says. “The sense of wonder has kind of gone now, I think.” What’s changed isn’t so much how we interact with others online but the scale at which it happens.”

Also, blogging has changed so much I’d be hard pressed to name a single new blogger I’ve started following in recent years. Social media profile? Perhaps, but then it’s on some other platform.

Still, there are so many people I still care about because I “know” them via first blogging, then other platforms – and it was devastating to read about Armstrong's death. My deepest condolences to her family.

Heather Armstrong speaks at XOXO conferende in 2015. Photo: Ian Linkletter via Flickr, published under a CC BY-NC 2.0 Licence.



New AI-powered title generator and how journalists won’t be replaced by AI, but by journalists who can utilize AI

A few quick tidbits on AI and journalism, based on a recent seminar arranged by The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA) on Norwegian media and AI.

New AI-powered title generator

On the day of the debate, Labrador CMS announced the launch of its advanced AI-powered title generator at the PPA Festival held on Tuesday, April 25, at The Brewery in London – a UK version of the story, on the launch (Labrador is lead by key former NONA-folks)

“A few thousand reporters will soon have direct access to machine learning writing support in CMS. This is one of the coolest things by delivering a SaaS Publishing Platform. When we roll out new functions, we do it to all customers. The latest function is to integrate directly with Open AI and suggest better titles to the story and then automatically send them to A/B test,” said Jan Thoresen, CEO, Labrador CMS.

“Journalists won’t be replaced by AI, but by journalists who know how to utilize AI,” laughed Inga Strümke, Associate professor in AI at NTNU and author of a popular, recently published, and currently sold out, book on AI “Maskiner som tenker”, at the end of her talk at the NONA-event.

Though it seems from the debate (which I watched via live stream) this might have been a conclusion derived from, or shared with, other key people in the audience (such as Torgeir Waterhouse) before the debate. You can still see the live stream on Facebook here, though the debate is in Norwegian (starts roughly 15-16min into the recording)

She also said the recent call to pause AI development is an ineffective way of dealing with the issue, but that we are in dire need of proper regulation of AI. She said the EU’s proposed AI act is an interesting piece of proposed legislation to follow in this respect.

As of last Thursday, Strümke's non-fiction book on AI was in fact Norway's most selling book.

Another interesting thought I made a note of from the seminar was this:

“I think there’s a lack of wider journalism about AI. Now it's being covered as a cool new thing. But I’m concerned with how it is already affecting us – e. g. Snapchat's My AI is in the pockets of very many people now, also very many young people. What kind of effects does it have?,” said Janni Frederiksen Kalafatis, UX lead in Schibsted-owned VG. Among other things, he’s been central to the development of the transcription tool JOJO and AI-generated article summaries.

As a former tech reporter I always thought covering tech should be about a lot more than just the cool new, new thing/gadget and its specifications: technology and the way it is used has so many ramifications for society as a whole (not only new tech, but also old and bad IT solutions that we’ve seen get in the way of effective legislation or even effective health care).

So it will be vital to see journalism about AI move beyond the new cool thing phase. In fact, I have read about international media hiring AI reporters. Googling, I find Muck Rack has this list of 10 top AI in 2023 – and it seems like a good list to explore. Speaking for myself, I am only familiar with the work of Madhumita Murgia, AI editor at Financial Times, as of writing.


Inga Strümke, Photo: Mona Haugli / Kagge Forlag

The newspaper using AI to clone the voice of a journalist to make journalism more accessible

Schibsted-owned Aftenposten has used AI to «clone» the voice of one of its journalists and podcasters.

The project started when the newspaper was working on Aftenposten Junior, a digital news service specially developed for students in primary school where, due to strict accessibility requirements, text to speech was business critical.

The result is an AI voice with unlimited possibilities. Product director Karl Oskar Teien and product manager Lena Beate Hamborg Pedersen talked about the project at a recent meeting of the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA). has an article about the project here (in Norwegian). Some quick notes:

  • 5-8% in Norway have reading difficulties, so we believe this is an important democratic project
  • Video streaming eats up more and more of the market, and the battle for users' attention year by year
  • Scarcity of information: The newspaper used to be portal to the world. Now: Information overload – lots of sources, too little time.
  • We’ve gone from from local physical distribution to global digital distribution
  • Visual attention - reading on paper and screen
  • Audio attention – screen-free news consumption
  • More people are listening and each individual is listening more to online audio (all audio that is not radio).
  • More and more people are using AirPods and other earplugs
  • We are seeing more and more audio startups - one of the biggest augmented reality offerings available today. Sound facilitates more multitasking and less screen time
  • Correlation between listening and customer loyalty: Aftenposten has a strong position in audio and podcasts. 200k users now pay for podcast.
  • Challenges in scaling up sound production - e.g. costs, time, prediction, updates (news is fresh)
  • Text to speech can be a solution (opposite of speech to text) = unlimited output and available everywhere
  • Our ambition is for all of Aftenposten's journalism to be made available in audio format
  • The technology we use: BeyondWords
  • Used Anne Lindholm's voice, at the time she was the presenter of "Explained"
  • We have had a robot trainer who has worked with this - a student who sat and listened
  • Sound resonates better with younger target groups
  • Users who listen complete more of the article
  • Possibilities going forward: playback from the front page, playlists for different needs, play my saved articles, etc
  • This is groundbreaking work both legally and technically.
  • Has, among other things, a contract with Anne Lindholm which states that the voice should only be used in editorial and not commercial products.

Norwegian media and artificial intelligence in practice: AI-powered transcription and market services

The debate about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will reshape various industries has exploded as of late, especially after the launch ChatGPT. Here are some ways AI is being put to use by Norwegian media, as discussed during a recent meeting of the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA).

Teknisk Ukeblad (TU) Media has developed its own AI-powered tool to transcribe audio recordings and to  subtitle videos based on Whisper from OpenAI, supported by programming in Java and Phyton.

Every day, the tool saves hours of work in the newsroom.

TU is currently focusing on how to improve the tool's speed, which of course is critical when people are out working in the field and video and/or audio needs to be published quickly. Eirik Helland Urke, responsible for photo, video and multimedia at TU and developer Sebastian Hagemo gave an interesting introduction on this.

Schibsted-owned VG has also developed an AI-based transcription tool – and will soon make it available in AppStore. Johannes Gorset, director of engineering at VG, told the meeting how the tool, “JOJO”, saves journalists hours of work – and promised that VG soon will make it available for everyone to download via AppStore and run on ones own servers.

Interestingly, in the early stage of developing this tool the programmers experimented with using Amazon Sweden cloud storage, which of course didn’t provide the necessary security for protecting sources. This is essentially why VG created an app: to ensure that the solution runs locally and is secure.

This is, of course, is of vital importance when working with major investigative podcasts on issues such as true crime or other controversial topics such as VG has had great success with. has an interesting article on JOJO, written with the help of JOJO.

At financial daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN), language models are used to strengthen DN Investor, the newspaper's stock exchange and market service.

Martin Kermit, Head of Data Science at DN-owner DN Media Group, told the audience how large amounts of text are analyzed using natural language technology (NLP) to strengthen DN Investor, the media house's stock exchange and market service - which combines share prices with journalism.

Users get access to share prices on the Oslo Stock Exchange together with news about developments in the markets.

The service also contains a number of useful tools, such as notifications when something special happens on topics the users follow.

AI is used to (quick notes):

  • Automatically identify companies on the Oslo Stock Exchange mentioned in a DN article (and only relevant companies). This is based on Natural language processing (NLP). It’s a challenge that NLP is not necessarily so steady in Norwegian, so DN has collaborated with Nowegian media company Amedia on developing language models based on the framework spaCy, as well as language information from Nome and NDT. The NLP language model is trained using the content of these two media groups. Most important component: Named entity recognition (NER). Practical use: integration in the CMS - it's implemented as a plugin in Dr. Publish (the CMS runs on). The company is added automatically, the reporter has the option of editing.
  • DN has several projects with NLP language technology: Automatic categorization of news, article recommendations for further reading etc.

Interestingly: The language model must be constantly updated with new words, e.g., corona - when the pandemic hit, the tool was just unable to decipher that word.

Disclosures: I’ve co-founded and was the founding president of NONA and am of course a big fan of their work even though I no longer have any official role in the organization. I’ve also worked for VG and Journalisten

The Humanoid Future of Journalism

NB: Written in 2018: - We’ve seen a 25 per cent decrease of journalists in Sweden in recent years. There are no longer enough journalists to do what journalists should do, said Robin Govik, Chief Digital Officer at, Sweden’s leading local media company at the annual conference of Norwegian Online News Association (NONA) in 2018.

In 2015 the company started experimenting with robot journalism.

Not necessarily to replace journalists with robots, but to broaden its coverage and provide coverage of things journalists wouldn’t normally cover or have the capacity to write a zillion stories on – such as all individual property sales in a given neighbourhood, the weather, local businesses and local sports matches (including in lower divisions   newspapers wouldn’t normally cover).

The company started its property service, where robots write all the copy, in September 2017, and within four months robots had written more than 10,000 articles on property sales.

According to a survey by, conducted among 102 readers, 68 per cent of respondents said they didn’t notice articles had been written by a robot.

Among the reasons Govik thinks the future of journalism is humanoid, are the opportunities for personalisation and hyperlocal content.

More about the homeowners bot here, and in this video.

Govik gave a talk on a similar topic at this year’s SXSW in Austin, some highlights here.

NowThis: How to create great content that works for any platform

For video news publisher NowThis, social platforms have become even more important since the publisher effectively shut down its website early 2015. At a recent journalism event, NowThis-editor Sarah Frank talked about how to make content fly on various social platforms.

«NowThis, founded in 2012 by former Huffington Post and Buzzfeed veterans, already emphasized off-site distribution of its short-form, millennial-focused and mobile-optimized video clips, pushing content to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr and other networks,” when it shuttered its website in February 2015 (full story here).  

In many ways, this reflects how the media landscape is changing, as e.g. ex-Chartbeat CEO Tony Hail talked about at the annual conference of Norwegian Online News Association (NONA) last year, NONA16. Among other things, he said traffic to news sites increasingly come from social apps and people trust the apps more than they trust the stream:

“It causes trouble for how we think about the economics of content because content [in the media industry] has always been bundled… New companies with a very different cost base are starting to pop up, they don’t have their own sites – their strategy is just to be out there on the platforms.” (full post here)

NowThis is one such company, and at this year’s NONA conference, NONA17, NowThis’ Sarah Frank gave an inspiring talk on how to create successful content for various social platforms. Below are my notes from her talk:

Social Platforms 101:

  • Platforms are not just traffic generators or promotional tools. They are complex personalities and deserve focused attention.
  • Platforms have a purpose. They were built for something before publishers entered the equation.
  • Platforms are about people. The users are the most vital part of the narrative.
  • Listen to your audience. They tell you what they feel without explicitly telling you.
  • Find your voice. Personalities flourish on platforms, find yours.
  • Look at your worst practices. That’s where there is most room to improve.

So… what works where?

  • Facebook: Short, emotional, worthy of a share

“On Facebook, NowThis mostly does video - and shorter and shorter video. These days often 10-20 seconds.” On FB a view is 3 seconds into the video. Use A/B testing.

  • Twitter: Speed matters. Live events & reporting flourish. Mix of text, photo, video, gif. Can successfully link back to site.

“Breaking news works. Will often mix formats to stand out in the feed, especially in a situation with breaking global news you really need to stand out.”

  • Snapchat Discover: Highly visual, short quick headlines for 16-25 year olds

“I often joke that Snapchat Discover is like the Harry Potter-newspaper. It’s very resource demanding, most people I know who work with it have rings/bags under their eyes.”

  • Instagram: Highly visual, leans lifestyle, sourced from the platform.
  • YouTube: Deep dives, explainers, personality-driven.
  • Various “stories” products: Experiment! Personality driven, can link back.

To understand what works, think like a user:

  • Would I share this on my feed?
  • Do I actually care about this story?
  • What’s the most compelling part?
  • What emotion am I trying to convey?
  • How will I get users to finish and share?
  • And, if you wouldn’t share the story to your own feed it’s useful to ask yourself: why wouldn’t you?

"Emotions tend to drive shares on all platforms. There’s got to be some sort of reaction you had from the story that you can use when pushing it to an audience."

"It’s useful looking at where in the story you get bored."

As for the kind of employees NowThis is looking for, Frank said: "We are looking for employees who just “get” social, that is easiest to determine by just going to their social media feeds. My team members can do everything and what they don’t know how to do they’ll go figure as they like to learn. We look for digital natives but that’s not necessarily about age, it’s about mindset, and people who just “get” social. New media stars can write, shoot, do everything."

Editorial + data=BFFs

We began to have this editorial check list for what works and what doesn’t work. It enabled us to back away from topics that neither we nor our audience felt passionate about.

So get your programmers on your editorial team, our two teams go to lunch together and are in constant conversation via Slack etc.

Measure success by looking at failures:

  1. Focus on the bottom-performing stories and look for clues
  2. Have the right conversations
  3. Propose a solution
  4. Test
  5. Create best practices
  6. Repeat

When to join a new platform:

  1. Can we say something that feels right for the platform? Do we understand how users use the platform?
  2. Determine your goal. Traffic back to site? Engage new audiences? Just an experiment?
  3. Team bandwith. Determine the "lift" of testing on a new platform.
  4. It's okay to start small! Give someone a project... Start small. Start with 1-2 people, someone already dedicated to it.

A few other interesting points form Frank's talk:

Recently we brought on two people from, Andy Carvin and Kim Bui. And that’s amazing.

We have a slack-room called breaking news, the first person to spot something alert everyone.

When the terror attack in Manchester happened, everyone had left work. One of our producers who was at home recovering from tonsillitis cut the video like a champion, our news editor headed into our HQ like fast where we have the best internet connection and could redistribute etc, we had people going through social and checking for permissions etc. It was a big operation.


Defining a content strategy for a journalism start-up

Defining a content strategy is the hardest part when launching a new journalism start-up, according to the title of a speech at a recent journalism event. So just how do you go about creating a successful one?

Sebastian Horn is the founding editor and head of - a new online journalism platform by the publisher of Die Zeit and Zeit Online in Germany.

According to this piece by Nieman Journalism Lab, German legacy publishers are chasing millennial audiences by launching brand new, more targeted products. “We didn’t want to alienate core loyal readers with sudden content for younger audiences. So we started a whole other product to cater to young people where we can try new things, ‘move fast, and break stuff.'”

Horn, a former community and social media editor at Zeit Online, was brought in to create and manage one such brand:, launched in beta in July 2015. At the annual conference of the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA) recently, he shared some of his insights from building a journalism start-up and defining a successful content strategy.  

What we have learned at

  • Deciding what NOT to do is key. E.g. We’re not on Snapchat Discover
  • Look at the data and use the insights for continuous development
  • Make sure your team understands your content strategy
  • Keep engaging with your users
  • Do what you love
  • Defining your content strategy is the hardest part.

Some of the questions your content strategy needs to answer:

  • What is your target audience?
  • What topics do you cover?
  • How do you excite your audience?
  • How much content do you publish?
  • How do you engage with your community? You should not ever launch anything without thinking through how you are going to engage with your users.
  • What is your voice as a brand?
  • What is your revenue model (this obviously influences your content strategy) ? At we’re still pretty old school, our revenue model is built on reach.
  • Who’s on your team – this should influence your content strategy heavily. The youngest on our team is 22, I’m 32 and one of the oldest on the team.
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Who is your inspiration?
  • How do you measure success? It’s important to define what success is: visits, influence, numbers, reach, engagement etc.

A successful story for

“With every story, we try to relate it to young people’s lives and what are they supposed to feel emotionally when they read the story,” Horn explained.

He added that stories about love, friendship, relations etc are the kind of stories is most successful with – and stories related to happiness “as there is a lot of anxiety in our society”, but sometimes also has success with political stories.

If one of its journalists has a good idea for a project, the management will often clear a week for a person to work with the project - e.g. to create a podcast.

A person in the audience, NRKbeta’s Anders Hofseth, asked Horn how being owned by an old, traditional publishing group was like.

“They are very happy with what we do, as so far we have been successful. As a start-up, you need to prove there’s a path to profitability, and, so far, we’ve proven that so they leave us alone for most of the time now,” said Horn.

He added that the biggest advantage with’s owner set-up, with being part of a big publishing group, is that you have all the support you need and can rely on an existing infrastructure and lots of expertise within the publishing group.  However, it is so important to protect a small, young team such as’s when it is growing, and Horn felt the best way to do that was by being separate operation (as is).

VR the champions: behind the scenes of creating a virtual reality concert with legendary rock band Queen

This week VR Film Director and 360 stereographer Jannicke Mikkelsen was named one of Norway’s 50 most influental women i tech. I was privileged to hear her give a talk a few months back on producing Queen & Adam Lambert's #VRthechampions.

The full version of British rock band Queen's first concert film in VR, shot in front of an audience of 15,000 fans live in Barcelona in May 2016, will be shown in its entirety at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017 (following a limited world premier at the Tribeca Virtual Reality Arcade at Westfield World Trade Center in November).

But I was privileged to get an introduction to the amazing immersive concert experience when Mikkelsen, the film’s producer, gave a talk on this during a meeting about VR, 360video and journalism/storytelling recently. The meeting was organised by the The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA), more headlines from the meeting here.

Basically, the production required inventing many of the key tools of production from scratch as well as extensive planning.

For the purpose of filming the concert in 3D, Mikkelsen's team created an inventive construction of lots of small Go Pro-cameras.


“The problem with Go Pro is that each Go Pro acts like a little computer, and it is very hard coordinate a lot of Go Pros simultaneously. So we added Raspberry Pies,” said her dad in an add-on to her presentation, as his IT-company also was involved in the production - which additionally required Mikkelsen’s team to write a new software to make the whole production setup work.

The result is absolutely astounding, and is a new success for Mikkelsen, an accomplished VR director and 360 stereographer whom Cameraimage has described as “at the cutting edge of entertainment exploration”

On her homepage, the VR-film is introduced in the following way:

“VR The Champions is the title of QUEEN + Adam Lambert’s first live-concert film in virtual reality. This unique VR film gives the viewer a concert experience like no other. The film offers everything from front row access to the ultimate on-stage experience together with the band. Captured in flying 3D-360 the viewer is taken on a unforgettable journey hovering above the audience and flying along side Queen guitarist Brian May, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, and lead singer Adam Lambert, performing on the grand stage of Barcelona’s Palau St. Jordi.”

As it happens, Queen guitarist Brian May is also an astrophysicist with a long-standing fascination with 3D-imagery who launched his own, wallet friendly Owl-viewer, a good alternative to Google’s Cardboard 3D-viewer, last year.


An amusing part of the production story was about the challenges of travelling with all this inventive equipment.

It seems the inventive Go Pro-construction and the slew of Samsung phones the production team travelled with could easily be confused for terrorist equipment as they had a hard time getting through the customs in Spain.

The Spanish custom officers were not big on English, so it was only the combination of the team wearing Queen-T-shirts and one of the custom officers following Brian May on Twitter that got them through customs in the end.

After plenty of initial confusion and communication problems, one custom official pointed at the team’s T-shirts and said something to the tune of “Queen 3D-360 tour Barcelona” and they were let go, as apparently the custom officer had seen Brian May tweet about this concert.

By the way, Mikkelsen is also a terrific speaker that I would highly recommend on the topic of VR-storytelling, her pervious work includes VR-productions for David Attenborough and various films, and I was so taken in by her talk that I almost forgot to take notes (which is unusual for me, who sometimes even catch myself taking notes in personal conversations with friends).

Virtual Reality Journalism on the cusp of mainstream adoption?

Is 2017 the year Virtual Reality (VR) journalism will take off? At a recent event two Norwegian publishers shared their insights and exeriences from working with VR-journalism.

«The most exciting thing about VR is to be able to share the entire experience, not just elements of it,» said Eirik Helland Urke, Head of VR at Norwegian publisher Teknisk Ukeblad (TU), Norway's leading engineering magazine, during his talk on TU, VR- and 360° video at a recent event organised by The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA).

TU has been using VR- and 360° video as part of its journalistic tool box for a few years, and launched a separate VR-section in the summer of 2015 with content adjusted to being viewed with VR-goggles/headsets (though by TU's own account, since so few have this type of equipment yet, the content can also be viewed in a web browser).

Innovation funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative, totalling 300,000 Euros, in 2016 enabled TU to focus on producing more of this type of content, both for editorial and commercial products. All of its journalists have also received training in VR- and 360° video and all have access to equipment for producing it.  

Being a popular engineering magazine, TU finds that some of its most popular VR- and 360° videos are ones that enable the viewer to explore and experience great engineering, be it impressive cruise ships, robots, cars, bridges or seeing the world from amazing airplanes.

«VR requires a whole different mindset,” said Urke, one of Norway’s most innovative multimedia producers and an experienced press photographer. As an example he mentioned how with 360° video you can’t just zoom in, you have to be where it happens, and you can certainly not position yourself at the back of the concert hall. Urke has worked with the 360-format for more that ten years, but it was not until 2015 he felt VR-technology as such was starting to become mature enough for a wider audience.

During his talk, he explained that Samsung Gear View is the camera TU uses the most for VR- and 360° video, while Hero4 is the most advanced such camera the newsroom uses. In addition, he said Nikon is just out with a camera that theoretically is supposed to work for iPhone, but he has found it to be a bit “buggy” - and the fact that it automatically stitches images together can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. 

Urke said VR-journalism is no obvious money making machine in Norway today: “These are still very early days both in terms of audience and production, but the fact that we received funding from Google has allowed us to use more resources to experiment with 360° video and VR.” He explained that TU’s main source of revenue from VR today comes from content marketing.

At The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) they have used VR- and 360 video° in a number of different productions and news settings, which includes such diverse cases as:

  • Using it to explain how the maelstrom worked when introducing a slow-tv production from Saltstraumen, the world's strongest maelstrom (“Saltstraumen minutt for minutt”). An blog post on how NRK worked to produce the documentary can be found here (in Norwegian)
  • Equipping NRK’s foreign correspondent Morten Jentoft with a 360° video camera in Ukraine, where among other things he used it when visiting a woman at the frontline in Makijivka in Ukraine.
  • Using it to convey the feelings of getting back to school on your first school day after a break in a promo for TV-series “Jenter” (“Girls”)

Still “…the push from the technology companies will not make 2017 the year of VR, either. VR and 360° video will only go mainstream when people are starting to have great experiences and start to talk to each other about them. That is where journalism should play a pivotal role, Ståle Grut the acting editor of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s R&D-lab, NRKbeta, concluded in a recent piece for Nieman Journalism Lab, published after his talk on NRK and VR-journalism at the mentioned NONA-meeting (the examples of cases where NRK has used VR and /or 360° video is taken from his NONA-talk).

“…After spending countless hours of watching VR and 360° content the last years, it strikes me that too many journalistic endeavors lack the key ingredients of good stories and good storytelling — which is quite an amazing feat for a profession built around the two. With VR, we need to abandon almost everything we know about traditional media production. This is like video games. Or theatre…”, he wrote. He said that in his opinion, the BBC is far ahead of others here, and highly recommended BBC’s eight tips on producing VR before setting out to do it yourself .

Read Grut’s full piece for Nieman Journalism Lab here.


Svalbard: The most exotic place I’ve been in a long while

Imagine a place where cats are prohibited, as is dying, it’s polar night 24/7 several months a year, the streets have no names, carrying weapons are mandatory and permanent residents are still subject to alcohol rationing.

“Svalbard is almost a different planet.”

Thus said a hotel bartender in the hotel we were staying in in Longyearbyen while on Svalbard late last year, and the sentiment rings true to me.

It must be said that I was only in Longyearbyen for about 48 hours and attending a conference on science communication most of the time while there, so my experience of the place was limited - but it was still the most exotic place I’ve been for a very long time.

I had no idea you could find a place that was so different from the rest of Norway that is still technically a part of Norway, even though the Svalbard treaty limits Norway’s right to collect taxes there and there are other ways in which the archipelago operates under slightly different laws and regulations than the Norwegian mainland.

It’s polar night four months a year on Svalbard, and in contrast to a place like Tromsø, where you still get a few hours of daylight even in the darkest part of the year, it was just pitch dark all the time while I was on Svalbard.

Pitch dark and very quiet – only about 2000 people live in Longyearbyen (2654 at the start of 2016), where I was staying. As you might have heard there are more scooters than cars there, and even at the end of the main street in the middle of the city, where I was staying, it felt rather desolate.


At the same time, I felt I was surrounded by very powerful nature – the silence was not negative, just very different from what I’m used to – and it was a pity that it was so dark while I was there as I would have loved to see more of that nature. As it was, I only caught glimpses of it.

Perhaps because of the quiet and total darkness I slept exceedingly well on Svalbard, in fact I can’t think of any place in the world where I have slept better, but don’t think I’m cut out for living with polar night 24/7. However, I have promised myself to come back at a different time of the year when there is light (though I’m told that as well can be 24/7).

But those laws I mentioned in the intro?

A very unusual thing about Svalbard, at least to me, is how much it’s shaped by its history, and shaped by its unique nature and biodiversity status.

One of the oddest things about Svalbard is its alcohol laws, which I understand is shaped by its past as a mining settlement.

To this day, Svalbard has mandatory alcohol ration cards for permanent residents, a card that also serve as an identification card for permanent residents. Locals must present this card when buying beverages regulated by the quota system (beer, liquor, fortified wine) in shops such as “Nordpolet” (a state monopoly which also sells regular beer). Wine, apparently, was consumed by the governing classes when the quotas were introduced, so is not regulated other than by the vague term “in reasonable amounts”. But alcohol bought in bars and restaurants is exempted from the quotas.

As for producing alcoholic beverages on Svalbard, after substantial lobbying a new law was passed by the Norwegian Parliament as late as July 2014 which enabled Svalbard Bryggeri, the world’s northernmost brewery, to tap its first beer in August 2015 – brewed with glacier water. They make an interesting IPA (a bit too fruity for my taste), a nice Stout and a Lager (Pilsner) I didn’t sample.


Many of Svalbard’s companies had their own currencies until recently . In the old days, workers would get their payment in the companies’ own currency only, a currency they could use only on Svalbard, and the money would only be exchanged to Norwegian kroners when they left Svalbard for good.

Cats are strictly prohibited on Svalbard as the archipelago is home to abundant Arctic bird populations and cats pose a problem for the bird life.

The streets in Longyearbyen truly have no names,  they simply go by numbers.

Carrying a firearm is mandatory most everywhere on Svalbard, due to the threat of meeting polar beers, save in the center of Longyearbyen. If, as a tourist, you venture into an area where you may encounter polar beers, you must bring an armed guide.   


Wearing outdoor shoes inside is discouraged even in public buildings, so you’d better bring some slippers. This pertains even to hotels, museums and places such as the local university, and I was told this as well has its origin in the days when Svalbard was a mining settlement.

You cannot choose the colour of your house, houses must be painted in colours that compliment Svalbard’s nature and before you paint your house you must obtain a permission.

Dying has been banned in Longyearbyen since 1950 (!) because the bodies do not decompose (due to the permafrost), and pregnant women return to the mainland to give birth.

And this is but a few of the unusual things about Svalbard.

We were lucky enough to get a guided bus tour of Longyearbyen while there, with an excellent guide, and did get to explore a few museums and get the background story on key areas and historic buildings – even if it was pitch dark.

That, by the way, was probably the most exotic sightseeing I’ve experienced in a long time as well, in fact I’ve never done a three-hour sightseeing spent, save in the museums, driving through near complete darkness, but the guide truly was excellent.

So, I just must come back in one of the lighter months, perhaps come summer…


New bloggers' code of conduct to combat eating disorders and unhealthy body image obsession

This summer saw the launch of a new bloggers' code of conduct focused on changing the unhealthy body image obsession of leading bloggers, and inspiring bloggers to blog more sensibly about issues such as health, food and fitness in order to be better, healthier role models.

Have you posted any anorexia inducing fitness blog posts with glam photos and ascetic dietary advice recently?

If so, a new Norwegian bloggers' code of conduct is aimed at getting you to take a more sensible, common sense approach to blogging about such issues.

Now if you read this blog you’re probably not one of these popular lifestyle bloggers this code of conduct is aimed at in the first place.

But its launch says a lot about the changing (social) media landscape, and how the image of what a blogger is has changed with it.

«Is your blog really a blog if it has no pictures of shoes on it?» Back in 2010 I blogged about how blogger and author Ida Jackson told Oslo’s first Twestival that she often was met with this question when she, a very successful «traditional» text-based blogger, was invited to give talks to to senior high school students in Norway about blogging.

Since then this glam lifestyle blogging trend has only accelerated.

These days, Norway’s top earning bloggers are mostly lifestyle or glam bloggers who write photo-heavy diary like blogs on personal fitness, dieting, fashion, design – and shoes. Some of these have reported annual incomes in the region of 1 million Norwegian kroners (about £109K with today’s currency rate), often from ads and sponsored content.

And with the increasing popularity (and media coverage) of this kind of blogs, the meaning of the term «blogger» has more and more become associated with glam bloggers rather than what to certain age groups are seen as «old school text-based bloggers» - if they are aware of this kind of text-based blogging style at all.

Enter the new «common sense» bloggers' code of conduct, launched by a group comprised of lifestyle bloggers, media company Egmont publishing, psychiatrist Finn Skårderud and representatives from blogging company United Influencers and media company Bonnier.

The initiative has been met with both praise and criticism. Praise for trying to address the blogging style of what many see as dangerously unhealthy teenage role models, criticism among other things for whether such a code really is needed in the first place – and for whether it was launched by people with vested interests.

The criticism it has been met with is not so dissimilar to the one previous attempts at launching any sort of bloggers' code of conduct has been met with, from early attempts to launch a code to regulate how glam bloggers’ present sponsored content - and all the way back to the debacle surrounding Tim O’Reilly’s attempt at launching a code of conduct for bloggers back in 2007.

But with the rise of often young glam bloggers, at times with heavily sponsored content and plenty of product placements, who inspire scores of very young and impressionable readers, is the «blogosphere», and a «blog» for that matter, really what is used to be? The old, unwritten code of conduct of "old-school" bloggers (of transparancy, always crediting your sources, linking out etc) is certainly not one this new school of bloggers abide by.

Here’s a quick translation of the key headlines of the new "Common Sense" code of conduct so you can judge the initiative for yourself (any translation inaccuracies is all down to me, you can find the full code of conduct in Norwegian here):  

The common sense code of conduct

  1. Avoid writing how much you weigh, BMI, calorie intake, waist circumference, arm circumference and similar numbers. Remember that you have young readers that compare themselves with you.
  2. Avoid being too rigid when writing about the positive or negative aspects of a single food or a lifestyle. Remember that you write from your own experience and not a professional one. What is good for you is not necessarily good for everyone else.
  3. Photo editing programs might be good for adjusting the light, colours and views, but avoid changing body size or shape.
  4. Feel free to share food and fitness inspiration, but be good at emphasizing whom it is meant for - and that not everyone runs as fast, weighs as much or need to change anything. Remember that you have no control over who is reading what you post online. Even if you have a core group of regular readers who comment, you also have readers who are younger and older, healthier and sicker.
  5. Focus on the pleasure of exercising rather than how far you run or how many repetitions you take. Remember that you don’t have to write about every time you exercise in order to share fitness inspiration. If you post a fitness program, remember to explain who it is created for and not.
  6. When writing about food, feel free to share pictures of your cooking, table or meals, but be conscious of the impact of posting photos that show the size of your portions. Show particular consideration if your own portion is small.
  7. If you write about clothes, avoid writing what dress size you use. Remember that readers do not know you in real life, and may be just guessing whether their bodies are equal or not.
  8. Be  aware of the total amount of images you put out there that is focused on your body. A body in a bikini is natural on a beach, but consider the scale of what is natural in other settings. Show what is behind the facade and post realistic images of yourself once in a while.
  9. Be cautious about sharing information about your cosmetic surgery. Acquaint yourself with what the law says about marketing cosmetic surgery
  10. If you are approached by readers who say they are ill or are having a difficult time, send them to professionals. “Mental Health” has a free 24/7 telephone helpline for people who need someone to talk to. Phone: 116 123 Those who find it difficult to talk to someone can get help in writing via Mental Health's online service.


Female speakers you need at your next journalism event

Here are 10 female speakers that would be brilliant speakers for your next media event.

Recently I found my name on this amazing list of «103 speakers you need at your next journalism event to avoid all male panels», compiled by’s Agbigail Edge.

I was very honoured to be included in such amazing company, I love the initiative «to relegate all-male panels to the Mad Men era where they belong» - and there are quite a few other names I would like to add to such a list.

Naturally, the list predominantly includes British and American speakers, but Abigail’s brilliant initiative had me thinking that we need such lists for Norway, Sweden and Denmark too, as: 1) Scandinavian, and especially Norwegian, media are at the forefront of online innovation, and 2) we have a lot of very competent female media leaders and speakers here.

I’ve started to make plans to create such a list for Norway with a collaborator or two, but in the meantime – here are  10 Norwegian female speakers who have impressed me while giving talks to an international audience on issues on or related to journalism and the changing media landscape.

I’ve had the privilege to hear a great many excellent Norwegian female speakers give inspiring talks on a wide range of issues, but for this purpose I’ve only included some who have impressed me while giving talks in English on, or related to, the media industry (I might easily have forgotten names here and hope to get back with a more thorough list later).

I must admit that when I started out as a journalist I often found myself in all-male newsrooms or other all-male settings and didn’t give this too much thought. But it became more and more apparent to me that there was a major issue to be addressed here when I was covering national and international media and tech conferences. Looking through my photos from these events they were almost exclusively photos of men in suits.

RichAndFamousMicIn other words, the speaker line-up of left a lot to be desired in terms of diversity, both in terms of the lack of women speakers but also in terms of more diverse speakers in general. It was also an issue I became increasingly more aware of when organising major media conferences myself when I was head of The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA).

Abigail’s list of «103 non-male speakers you need at your next journalism conference» includes two Norwegian women, Liv Håker-Ottesen, development editor of Sunnmørsposten, and myself. I was privileged enough to hear Liv give an impressive (and highly entertaining) talk during NONA16, just a day before this list was published, so it was great to see her high up on this list at no 16.

In addition, here are 10 other Norwegian women speakers who’ve impressed me while giving talks on the media industry or media related issues to an international audience:

  • Bente Kalsnes, PhD student researching social media and politics, long time blogger, media columnist for weekly newspaper Morgenbladet, former journalist and community editor, one of the founders of Girl Geek Dinners Oslo
  • Ida Jackson, advisor at Netlife Research, a content-driven digital design agency, author (including a book on social media), one of Norway’s best known bloggers, columnist for Dagbladet.
  • Ida Aalen, advisor and UX-expert at Netlife Research, columinst for Dagens Næringsliv’s media section, author of two books on social media, long time blogger, former board member of NONA
  • Hildegunn Soldal, digital development editor Dagbladet and Aller Media, former executive producer multimedia at The Guardian, former board member of NONA.
  • Jill Walker Rettberg, professor of Digital Culture, University of Bergen (UIB), author of several books on social media, long time blogger, worth following on Snapchat for news on social media research and how researchers can use Snapchat
  • Runa A. Sandvik, director of Information Security at The New York Times, Tor Advocate

Now this is to name but a few, just to get started. There are, as I mentioned, many more who should be on such a list – but I feel I need to get others involved in the project in order to make a more comprehensive list as we’re all shaped (and limited) by our experience, background and networks.

It must also be said that in a brilliant initiative, Women Speakers is continuously compiling an extensive list of Norwegian female speakers by way of crowdsourcing/self-reporting – and even though that list is more geared towards tech and marketing, that is absolutely an initiative to be inspired by.

Below, a shot from Ida Aalen (left) and Ida Jackson's (right) brilliant and inspiring talk during Webdagene 2014 on making a once doomed online encylopedia succeed online:

Webdagene2014: Ida & Ida om "Hvordan ta seg vann over hodet"

Ex-Chartbeat CEO: What data tells us about the world of platforms

The image that «crappy content» does well traffic wise is simply wrong, and how Facebook dominates traffic is changing user behaviour, the economics of content and more, said Tony Haile, former CEO of web analytics company Chartbeat, during a keynote in Oslo recently.

Haile, founding CEO of Chartbeat, recently gave a keynote  on «What data tells us about the world of platforms» during the annual conference of The Norwegian Online Association (NONA) in Oslo.

Today’s news that Facebook’s rise as a news source hits publisher’s revenue (and the annual report on digital news from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) only makes some of the things Haile talked about more relevant, but as there was plenty of food for thought in his talk I’ll just leave you with a lightly edited version of my notes from the talk.

«There are five things media companies do: create, host, curate, distribute, monetize. Of these five, Facebook now does four. So it is worth thinking about what that means as we go forward as an industry,» Haile said, and went on:

No one metric to rule them all

One of the things we find is that when talking to analysts they say there is no one metric to rule them all. They have to use a lot of different metrics and put it all together, but when they tell that to the commercial side of things it is as if they are talking different languages.

Often the people on the commercial side talk of a singular metric, and they end up using just one metric as a report card and that causes problems.

One such «report card» is page views, and that causes problems – among other things because most page views get extremely short exposure and have a massive bounce rate.

Viewability restores your faith in humanity

With the onset of viewability [an online advertising metric that aims to track only impressions that can actually be seen by users], this created a big change on the ad side because it matters what people do after they click, it matters if they read the content.

And when you look at that overview you get when you measure such things, it restores your faith in humanity. If you look beyond clicks and look at what gets reads but not clicks, it gives you a very different dataset.

It’s about the kind of data you choose: If you’re actually looking at the data of what people are reading and what they’re engaging with you’ll find that the image that «crappy content» does well traffic wise is simply wrong.

Page views on its own is a very problematic metric.

Zero correlation between shares and reads

So what do we have if not page views? We have social media. But there is zero correlation between the amount of shares and the amount of reads, between what people share and what they read.

Haile shows us an article from The Atlantic from March 2015 that did really well traffic wise , «What ISIS really wants»,  and tells us 60% of the traffic came from mobile (which proves people will read long stories on mobile). There was a distinct long tale effect, the article saw new spikes in traffic after e.g. the Paris terror.

«Twitter doesn’t drive meaningful traffic»

Desktop and mobile is not zero sum. Facebook dominates traffic. Mobile traffic often equals social, and social often equals Facebook – Facebook utterly dominates.

This is often a challenge for the news industry as we like Twitter, but our audience is on Facebook. According to Haile, Twitter doesn’t drive meaningful traffic. Facebook gives instant traffic boost, but Google stabilises traffic over time.

Google owns the lulls (long tail)

The total amount of attention is the closest metric we come for measuring quality.

«Of these five things we do, distribution is now very much in the hands of Facebook – and it’s actually starting to change user behaviour on sites,» said Haile.


People come from social apps and trust the apps more than they trust the stream, and that’s challenging.

Facebook changes the economics of content

It causes trouble for how we think about the economics of content because content [in the media industry] has always been bundled.

The rational for creating content which is uneconomic on its own, but is so important for media democracy,  starts to become challenging in this new landscape.

New companies with a very different cost base are starting to pop up, they don’t have their own sites – their strategy is just to be out there on the platforms.

We have to understand the power of the platforms. It may not be worthwhile to invest all that money in this shiny new CMS [Content Management System] anymore.

Your brand needs to be within the content itself

You have to think about the quantifiable value of your brand. The brand needs to be within the content itself, there is no use talking about a new logo or redesign when content can travel freely separate from your site.

The single most important thing you can to do is to nurture as many different platforms as possible as we’re increasingly moving to a platform world.

There is now a sneaking sympathy for those legacy media who have printing presses. If these trends continue, a lot of those things we have invested so heavily in in the media industry won’t have any value

The challenge for classic media companies is how to compete with these start-ups. Classic media companies’ infrastructure is increasingly becoming irrelevant. There are going to be new sorts of companies coming through

As a closing note, Haile said he is starting a new company this week.

«I think journalism is important for democracy but journalism isn’t being paid, and we have to solve that. I wonder if there is a broad-based solution for a subscription-based service where you’re not constantly distracted from the good content you want to read.»

More on Haile’s thoughts on the futility of the «click economy» here (via Ingeborg Volan).