Swedish Aftonbladet Uses Automation to Outpace Competitors With Its Covid-19 News Coverage


In Sweden, the spread of the coronavirus has accelerated in early March, leading to more statements published by the authorities.

To keep up with the increased pace of breaking news, the Swedish news site Aftonbladet has started using Corona Watch, an automatically generated feed that publishes all the stories about the health crisis in one place.

According to Aftonbladet managing editor Michael Poromaa, this solved the problem of refreshing the 21 regional healthcare authority websites every second, making sure the publisher is the first to report on new covid-19 cases.

"There was an immediate effect," says Poromaa in a blogpost.

"From having been, at best, second to publish new cases, we’re now more often the first, as [was the case] with 60 new cases in Stockholm on March 10 for example. It’s extremely valuable for us that reporters get notifications through the robot alert channel in Slack."

Corona Watch generated 158 notifications in its first week of use (5-12 March 2020), which were then converted to many updates on the Aftonbladet’s live Corona feed and also into a number of articles. The number of sources went from four to 20.

The tool was developed by Swedish tech company United Robots that create AI-powered tools to generate news content.

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