Hi there,

From their website: The Flat Earth Society has members all around the globe.

Now, we assume that everyone who subscribes to this newsletter understands and hopefully appreciates this joke, but it inadvertently set the smartocto team thinking.

We have members/followers/customers all over the globe too, and we want to engage with all of them. With Christmas nearly here, we've introduced an advent calendar. But of course this is predominantly a Christian celebration and not everyone is Christian. Are we excluding people with our content?

This is a struggle every self-respecting media title faces. You want to reach as many people as possible, but you also need to inject personality and colour into your media brand. In the coming weeks, most websites will be looking back at the year 2023. It's precisely in the choice of which events to reflect on, and how, that your priorities and target audience become clear.

It's essential that your editorial team knows where your focus lies, which needs you aim to fulfill, and the tone you want to set. In our case, we don't want to hide the fact that we are a European company with roots in the Netherlands and Serbia. But more importantly, we aim to be seen as helping media makers translate data into strategy. This is because we believe that simply offering a tool is not enough. We hope that this message is what you primarily see in our advent calendar on userneedsfornews.com.


“No publisher that I’ve spoken with is in any doubt that they need to start using this new technology, and get on the AI train as fast as possible”, says media investor Saša Vučinić. “Their hesitations are limited only to how to do it safely, responsibly, and without violating anyone else's rights.”

The question, of course, is: how? Fortunately, there are many lessons to be learned from the early days of the internet. The mistake that was widely made back then, either by ignoring the technology or by transferring far too much money to companies that promised golden mountains, is not really made anymore.

Our CEO Erik van Heeswijk has some tips in our latest blog: “Define where you want AI to assist editorial teams and which tasks it might eventually take over. This also means freeing up people to focus on this, giving them a mandate and a budget. Ensure every department is represented. Journalism is too valuable to be left solely to technicians.”


In previous newsletters, we've already highlighted the last webinar of the year, but we're doing so again because it encapsulates so much of what we consider important.

It was an Ask Me Anything session, and it truly lived up to its name. More than 200 media professionals registered for the webinar, and they fired off no fewer than 36 pertinent questions at Rutger Verhoeven and Dmitry Shishkin. There were some sobering answers, for instance, to the question of how much money media should invest in researching audience needs and setting up surveys.

Dmitry said:

"Just go to smartocto.com/userneeds. Read the whitepaper or the blogs. Use the model we've created. We've already done so much work, and everything is publicly available. If you invest money and time in surveys, you'll probably end up with the same results. So don’t do surveys. Just get started. Take small steps with a group of people who are excited by the idea and learn on the job."

Until the end of the year, we have made two websites freely accessible for all content creators who want to delve into this topic:

By the way, we found the responses to our own survey (yes, we are not completely opposed) so overwhelming that we wanted to share it this one time…


Every year, many media professionals eagerly anticipate the 2024 predictions from NiemanLab. ‘The brightest minds in journalism’ offer their insights on the expected developments and focus areas within the sector.

One of the predictions we're highlighting aligns well with the message of this newsletter. It comes from Alexandra Borchardt: “Everyone in the newsroom gets training. Digital transformation is more a cultural challenge than it is a tech challenge.”

Who are these people who avoid the news? Coincidentally also from NiemanLab, but it's just a very relevant piece towards the year's end when many news sites saw their traffic decrease. For the coming year, we'd say: this is something to engage with.

Metrics are fundamental to newsrooms’ day-to-day work, but they can be resource-intensive and challenging to implement or understand correctly, says Hleb Liapeika in The Fix. He answers the question of which metrics are important.

Following its rollout in countries like the US and UK this past July, Threads (by Meta) will finally be expanded to users in the European Union. The Verge believes it will happen today. Media outlets may have a new platform where they need to establish a presence.


That was the penultimate newsletter of the year. Just before we ring in the new year, we'll be back one more time. Maybe one last reading tip if you find yourself bored during the Christmas holidays: our webpage smartocto.ai. We collect and update all developments at the intersection of artificial intelligence and content analytics on this page.

Until next time!

Team smartocto