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By William Turvill, Press Gazette, April 29

Phillip Crawley, the Englishman who runs Canadian national news title the Globe and Mail, is a newsroom executive of the old school.

He has tales of working alongside Rupert Murdoch, sparring with Conrad Black, and editing the South China Morning Post during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

But Crawley, who also edited the Newcastle Journal between 1979 and 1987, has some strikingly new ideas about the future of journalism.

“If you’d asked me ten years ago, I’d have said that newsrooms would be largely resistant to being told what to do by the machine,” he tells Press Gazette in a phone interview.

The ‘machine’ he refers to is Sophi, an artificial intelligence (AI) programme developed by the G&M to drive up digital subscriptions.

As well as managing the Globe’s paywall, Sophi is also effectively a website homepage editor and social media consultant who provides “decision-support tools for editors”.

At face value, Sophi may sound like a dystopian nightmare to some traditional journalists. But it’s difficult to argue with the technology’s results.

The Globe credits Sophi with helping it reach 170,000 digital subscribers and bringing in millions of dollars of revenue.

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