World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Training the algorithm and curating content through an AI + old-school editorial work combo

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Training the algorithm and curating content through an AI + old-school editorial work combo

Both independent news-related start-ups and larger news publishers launching new businesses or spin-offs entered this year’s competition. With a clear value to their target market, and a great outline of a current or future business model, these 3 start-ups or spin-offs stood out from the crowd.


6AM City, United States 

Wake Up Local and Join the Conversation

6AM is a digital platform meant for news consumers in local communities. It has built a disruptive local publishing technology process for curating, packaging and distributing hyper-local news, events, information, and hot topics through a daily newsletter. Inspired by theSkimm, Axios, The Hustle and Need2Know, 6AM has achieved a milestone of 200,000+ active subscribers, 26 million newsletter reads, over 60 million email interactions and a total audience of over 1 million.

Thinking of a broader strategy, 6AM continues the conversation online and across social media, reaching a total of 250,000 social engagements each month. Since launched 3 years ago, 6AM has been developed in Greenville, SC but is currently expanding to Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC, Lakeland, FL, and Chattanooga, TN.

The impetus behind 6AM is to educate, activate and inspire local communities. Accordin to 6AM, in doing so they have obtained a significant revenue per subscriber, outpacing that of their national counterparts.


Knewz, United States

Knewz is a service designed to let consumers browse and search news from a wide variety of sources, from best known news sources, to small local publications where relevant news and information is screened every day without the average consumer’s knowledge. Under a disruptive visual design, Knewz works as a digital kiosk that gathers near-real-time headlines and seeks to balance the consumer’s perspective on current events, letting them choose from a wide range of topic clusters. This tool also lets news consumers avoid being biased and influenced by big aggregators’ algorithms. 

Knewz combines the work of cutting edge artificial intelligence with the experience of traditional news editors in order to curate a daily selection of links that not only honor original reporting, but also include local and niche publications often deprioritized by search engines. To promote quality journalism, Knewz links directly to the original source, respecting paywalls and encouraging their readers to jump directly into the original publishers’ site.


The Globe and Mail, Canada


The Globe and Mail developed an artificial intelligence engine called Sophi, which currently curates 99% of their content, autonomously, according to them. Sophi’s job is to analyze each story’s potential and performance in terms of subscriber retention, subscriber acquisition, registration potential and advertising dollars. Sophi determines what to promote in digital, print and social media in order to help journalists allocate their work hours more efficiently and to automate web pages to free up valuable talent to do journalistic tasks. Sophi also determines what to leave in front of the paywall to maximize advertising revenue and drive subscriptions.

However, The Globe and Mail hasn’t let a machine operate their content, given that their core mission is to have their journalists focus, find and tell great stories. Their editors are the ones to feed the AI engine and set the parameters for the mix of articles in each web page. They also curate the top three story packages on their homepage and business page. Sophi has transformed their business significantly and has brought about cultural changes in their newsroom to understand how readers truly value their content.


The winner of this category is Sophi by The Globe and Mail and is now competing for WAN-IFRA’s 2020 World Digital Media Awards against the winners from Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India.



Daniela Pena


2020-04-21 16:58

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