Journalism++ Stockholm gets Google funding to develop automated news service

One thousand news stories in eight months. That’s the goal of “Marple” an automated news service to be developed in Sweden by Journalism++ Stockholm.

Journalism++ Stockholm is one of four Swedish projects to receive funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative. Together with the statistician Måns Magnusson we have started developing “Marple”, a highly automated news service for finding especially local stories in public data.

“Open data has been a highly underutilized resource in journalism. We are hoping to change that”, says Jens Finnäs of Journalism++.

Under the past six months “Marple” has analyzed monthly crime statistics and found, among things, a wave of bike thefts in Gothenburg and a record number of reported narcotics offences in Sollefteå.

“These are the kinds of stories we will be able to find en masse in a soon future. What’s interesting about our methodology is that we are able to shed light on local data stories that rarely get coverage otherwise.”, says Jens Finnäs.

2015 was something of a breakthrough year for automated journalism in Sweden. The newsgroup Mittmedia started publishing robot written weather and football reports.

Marple taps in on the same development, but focuses on story finding and investigation, rather than text generation.

“We don’t think the robots will replace journalists, but we are positive that automation can make journalism smarter and more efficient, and that there are thousands of untold stories to be found.”

Journalism++ Stockholm has already started testing an early version of the platform with selected Swedish newsrooms and will continue to do so throughout the year.

“The grant from the Digital News Initative gives us a unique opportunity to test if we can turn Marple into a commercially viable product.” Contact Jens Finnäs ( / @jensfinnas / +46 76 901 7438) for more information. 

Visit the Marple website (in Swedish).

06 apr 2016

Jens Finnäs