Süddeutsche Zeitung is the largest subscription daily newspaper in Germany, with a print circulation of more than 350.000 and 23 million visitors (GA) a month online. When the news breaks, their journalists and editors must focus on getting all the facts fast. They use Slack and a bot they built in it to accelerate their research process.
The 300+ member editorial team used a combination of tools to chat, discuss article topics, plan shift coverage and more, which meant keeping multiple apps in a row of browser tabs running all the time. The team created the @SZbot to combine and automate all these functions.
@SZbot has more than 20 functions. Written in Google Spreadsheets and Google Script, @SZbot pulls data from the SZ.de web site, Google Docs/Sheets and—via API integration in Google Script—from other services and pushes it into Slack automatically or when a user types in a command. Data the team can get include: shift assignments, home page article performance and updates, site traffic data, name spellings, and translations. When asked, @SZbot also pulls top stories from other news sites, so they can stay in the know about their peers’ exclusive stories.
We've saved so much money with a simple Google Spreadsheets integration, because we're able to integrate so many tools we use in our newsroom every day. It's perfect.
“You can ask the bot and you get a good overview in much less time,” says Stefan Ploechinger, Digital Editor and Editorial Board Member. “Normally we’d have to pull up this dashboard and now it just tells you the trending articles on our web page.”
The news outlet automated other processes as well. The Home Page bot pushes every article published on their homepage and any updates into a Slack channel and to each author. Boost bot lets the team know which stories are performing extraordinarily on desktop or mobile.
“Because there's a lot of collaboration, people accept Slack as something really practical,” explains Ploechinger. “This means that even some very basic things, like ‘This is your traffic report,’ are becoming more exciting now.”