As editorial teams become more remote, we inevitably are looking to technology to solve the challenges that this brings. We spoke with Dan Reeves, Co Founder of the TRUE 212 platform which has recently launched LOYAL AI, an AI-driven journalism tool to help solve this problem and assist journalists in their workflow. Read the full interview to hear about how you effectively use LOYAL as both a journalist and publisher and the power of technology and digital transformation to deliver publishers the ability to do what they do best: create fantastic content and editorial.
Chart your career from the start to where you are now.
If I’m honest, I entered the world of publishing a little by accident. After taking on a sales job at Centaur, I secured my first major publishing role in 1994 at Emap’s Q magazine. Here, I worked on iconic brands such as FHM, Heat, The Face and Arena for 8 years and was hugely fortunate to work in the halcyon days for magazines through the 90’s! I then launched Word magazine at the independent publisher Development Hell before heading back to mainstream publishing with The Week at Dennis, and then finally as publisher of The Big Issue. My business partners and I then came together to launch content marketing agency TRUE 212 in 2012 which we still run today.
Can you explain what TRUE 212 is and how it came to be?
My business partner Ben Martin and I set out to combine our experience in digital and ‘analogue’ publishing as well as our networks to create an organisation that would help “brands to become publishers”. Ben’s roots were firmly in the world of digital and mine in print media. Together, we set out to help brands develop content for their own channels with the same values as a commercial publisher. For 5-8 years we were a full-service content marketing agency, working with well-known brands such as Picturehouse Cinemas. But we wanted to build even more value into our business. We wanted to own a media brand and a piece of propriety technology too.
Explain how LOYAL AI fits into the TRUE 212 platform and how it works?
LOYAL was born out of a set of challenges we were experiencing on a personal level, as our editorial team became steadily more remote. We were convinced there was an opportunity for technology to solve some of these challenges. In pursuit of the solution, we developed a detailed plan for an AI-driven journalism tool that we pitched to the Google Digital News Initiative. After securing an R+D seed fund, we built out an engineering team that began to develop the core technology behind the tool which harnesses the power of machine learning (ML) to assist journalists in their workflow. TRUE 212 helped incubate the platform and then the brand of LOYAL as we moved from concept through to beta version and now finally a launched product.
What gap are you trying to fill with LOYAL?
Being immersed in the publishing industry meant that we had first-hand experience of the pain and inconvenience journalists face when researching articles on a daily basis. We spotted a gap in the market for a journalism tool that could assist journalists, free up time, and speed up the process of filing articles. We wanted to give journalists more time to craft their stories, especially as we move into a world of the hyper news cycle publishing. Our aim with LOYAL is to help journalists keep up with the pace while delivering quality journalistic output.
How would a journalist or publisher effectively utilise LOYAL?
For the individual, freelance journalist we offer a curated database of 600+ trusted news sources that they can search in real time without having to leave their document. For publishers, we found that many have struggled to unlock the value of their archives, so LOYAL has an archive search solution that employs the same core, ML technology to resurface related articles and content that can assist in SEO linking strategies and domain authorities. Our vision is to democratise these technologies, enabling all publishers and journalists to access our tools wherever they work.
What does 2021 hold for True 212 and LOYAL?
A successful launch of the LOYAL brand and platform is key. Our ambition is to forge collaborative relationships with publishing organisations across the world and help to support the fast-growing area of AI in Journalism. For TRUE as a whole, we are looking forward to working with new and existing clients to assist them in creating entertaining and engaging content for their customers.
What’s on your radar?
Technology and digital transformation is going to deliver publishers the ability to do what they do best: create fantastic content and editorial. The digital subscription models publishers have managed to develop over the last five years have allowed them to begin to own their destiny again. They need to find an independent voice in order to explore and develop content that enriches their audiences.
What magazine would you stockpile?
Definitely Word magazine. Although it’s sadly no longer with us in print, it’s still very close to my heart. And of course The Week - it’s print publishing genius!