How Nota Built a Roadmap for AI-enabled Journalism with Help from Tribe

Bailey Seybolt

In this article:

  • Learn how Nota is reviving news deserts across the US with its GenAI-enabled tool kit for journalists and editors 
  • Discover how Tribe helped Nota accelerate product develop by providing technical advisory support on Generative AI and the marketplace
  • Learn how Nota partnered with Microsoft in the Microsoft Journalism Hub to bring efficiency and cutting-edge technology to newsrooms so journalists and newsrooms of all sizes can focus on creating meaningful content

The problem

Two things are true: It’s a tough time for local news, and this has dire implications for the health of democracy. Every week publications in smaller markets close shop (estimates say two local papers close every week) and newspaper and newsroom employees have dropped 57% since 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The result is expanding news deserts across the US, with diminished government accountability, reduced access to accurate information, and a general decline in public trust. 

Nota, a SaaS company using AI-enabled tools to streamline publishers' content creation and distribution, is out to change this. By harnessing advances in AI, Nota is building a tool kit for journalists and editors that generates summaries, SEO optimized headlines, metadata, and social media assets based on existing content. This will allow journalists to focus on reporting and will be especially valuable in small newsrooms where reporters have to wear many hats. 

“When small news organizations go out of business, you lose a lot of accountability,” says Josh Brandau, Nota CEO. “We built Nota to be a suite of tools that would use ML and AI to find efficiencies and empower journalists and editors in news organizations of all sizes. But our mission is really based on making it viable to operate news organizations that serve these smaller markets.” 

With recent leaps in Generative AI technology, Nota (which recently announced a partnership with Microsoft), needed a way to quickly understand how to layer this bleeding edge technology into their product roadmap. 

“When we came to Tribe, we’d been in business as Nota for a few months, and already the AI landscape had changed dramatically,” says Josh. “We needed experts who had thought deeply and passionately about how to apply AI to a novel space and had very specific domain expertise. That’s why we came to Tribe – we needed experts only Tribe could find. And it’s made an incredible impact on our tool creation and accelerated our perspective on the marketplace.”

The project

“Nota was already using ML to identify efficiencies, but the leap AI has made in terms of how you can train data sets and create application layers on top of these models was a new complexity that we needed to understand,” said Josh. 

The Nota team wanted:

  • Immediate, deep expertise into the impact of Generative AI on SEO to identify opportunities and blind spots
  • A Deep dive into the technical nuances between models to understand interoperability and product architecture considerations
  • A Competitive analysis of the landscape and evaluation of how Nota can offer differentiated tooling
  • Ongoing advisory support as Nota built out a strategic AI product roadmap  

To balance Nota’s needs around immediate expertise and ongoing support, Tribe build a team of two LLM experts:

  • Rachel - A senior data scientist with expertise at the intersection of generative AI and marketing to provide SEO expertise. With a background spanning large-scale ML systems from her time as a research data scientist at Meta, to applying AI in the most niche of spaces from her journey founding and building an AI-enabled ecommerce platform for artisan wineries. Currently, she leads The AI Exchange, an initiative that aims to help people integrate AI into their work, products, and lives.
  • Prem – A data scientist and ML engineer with a deep expertise in NLP to provide ongoing advisory support. Previously, as Director of ML at Artifact.io, he led applied ML research and engineering in NLP. Prem has over ten years of experience in Machine Learning and building ML-infused products including on the IBM Watson team and at AWS. Prem teaches applied language understanding at Carnegie Mellon University where his research has focused on NLP/NLU, Knowledge Graphs, and most recently the application in large language models.

“I gave unreasonable time periods – like I need an expert in this space specifically for SEO and I need this in two days,” Says Josh. “A true pants on fire startup experience, but Rachel’s execution was amazing and the documentation was good enough to immediately push through the whole company. It kickstarted some deeper dives into technology we weren’t even aware of and then led to a very successful partnerships meeting with Microsoft.”

“As our advisor, Prem grounded us in understanding the different models and training structures to think about,” says Josh. “Every week was a new unlock to a deeper understanding of how to use the technology. What model is better at Spanish, should we be caring about what Stanford is building, what’s the difference between Anthropic and Cohere’s models – everything deep in the weeds of AI.”

The Tribe team helped Nota accelerate their GTM with confidence and inform a strategic AI roadmap to carry them into the next phase of growth.

The future

Recently, Nota announced their collaboration with Microsoft as a tool in the Microsoft Journalism Hub. This hub will bring efficiency and cutting-edge technology to newsrooms so publishers, journalists and audience teams can focus on what matters most: creating meaningful content.  

“We believe that making our tools accessible to newsrooms of all sizes will enhance nearly every area of publishing. Nota's beta tools offer a lot of opportunities for all journalism. This hub will help publishers, particularly those in areas where development of a viable source of coverage, scale and reach a broader audience.”

“With our mission to support journalism for the future, the big questions I ask myself are: Are we creating the best possible products every day? Are we solving the right problems? Are we choosing the right models? What working with Tribe provided me with is the ability to be confident in our execution, that I’m making the most informed decisions, and that’s massively valuable as the CEO.”

Nota is focused on making the process of onboarding their tools as easy as possible, and will be announcing significant CMS integrations, a newsletter product, and more throughout the remainder of this year.

“I’m excited to partner with Tribe as we build out our full time team and create a larger suite of services, we couldn’t recommend them more.”

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Bailey Seybolt
Bailey got her start in storytelling as a journalist, before pivoting to tech content development for unicorn startups from Montreal to San Francisco – helping build brands and shape stories to drive business results.