The Writers Guild of America, East issued a blistering condemnation of G/O Media’s use of artificial intelligence to generate stories on sites including Gizmodo, The A.V. Club and Deadspin.
G/O Media’s AI-produced articles so far have included “A Chronological List of Star Wars Movies & TV Shows,” which was posted on Gizmodo’s io9 site last week and was riddled with errors; Deadspin’s “The 15 Most Valuable Professional Sports Franchises,” which provided outdated data on the value of different pro teams; and “The Biggest Summer Blockbusters of 2003: 10 Can’t-Miss Movies” on The A.V. Club.
“These AI-generated posts are only the beginning. Such articles represent an existential threat to journalism,” the union, which represents editorial employees at G/O Media, said in a statement Wednesday. “Our members are professionally harmed by G/O Media’s supposed ‘test’ of AI-generated articles.”
WGA East added, “But this fight is not only about members in online media. This is the same fight happening in broadcast newsrooms throughout our union. This is the same fight our film, television and streaming colleagues are waging against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in their strike.”
The union, in its statement, said it “demands an immediate end of AI-generated articles on G/O Media sites,” which include The A.V. Club, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, The Onion, Quartz, The Root and The Takeout. “Our members in the GMG Union and Onion Union have demanded bargaining from G/O Media on this new workplace development to no avail,” WGA East said.
Reps for G/O Media did not immediately provide comment on the WGA East statement.
In a June 29 email to staff, G/O Media editorial director Merrill Brown wrote in part, “We are both a leading technology company and an editorial organization that covers technology in world-class fashion across multiple sites. So it is utterly appropriate — and in fact our responsibility — to do all we can to develop AI initiatives relatively early in the evolution of the technology.”
G/O Media was formed in 2019 by publishing veteran Jim Spanfeller and private-equity firm Great Hill Partners, which acquired Gizmodo Media Group (previously part of Gawker Media) and The Onion from Univision.
In its statement, WGA East said, “AI-generated journalism is an oxymoron that we cannot allow to take hold among media outlets. Do not click on these stories. Do not give these companies the satisfaction of a click. That traffic cannibalizes the great work done by our overworked members.”
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