Earlier today, a lengthy piece on the web site Futurism began causing a stir among journalists at one of America’s most venerated media institutions. The piece alleged that stories on the Sports Illustrated web site “were churned out using AI,” and that the contributor profiles on many of them were also AI-generated, right down to the author photos, which Futurism’s researchers claim they found on sites selling AI-generated images.
The site also alleges it found similar content on The Street.com, which Arena Group bought from co-founder Jim Cramer in 2019. There was also a controversy earlier this year when Men’s Journal, another Arena Group publication, published an Ai-generated medical article reportedly riddled with “inaccuracies and falsehoods.”
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Shortly after noon today, the Sports Illustrated Union, which bills itself as a the publication’s “united editorial staff” organized under the New Guild of New York, issued a response on social media.
“We, the workers of the SI Union, are horrified by a story on the site Futurism,” the missive began. “If true, these practices violate everything we believe about journalism. We deplore being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers.”
It continued, “We demand answers and transparency from [parent group] Arena Group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name. We demand the company adhere to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”
Shortly thereafter, a spokesperson for the Arena Group posted a statement to the official SI Twitter/X account. The statement contends that the allegations about AI-generated content are “not accurate.”
Specifically, “The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce. A number of AdVon’s e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised.”
AdVon, the statement says, “has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans. According to AdVon, their writers, editors, and researchers create and curate content and follow a policy that involves using both counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software on all content. However, we have learned that AdVon had writers use a pen or pseudo name in certain articles to protect author privacy.”
The spokesperson writes that Arena Group has “ended the partnership” with AdVon.
Today, an article was published alleging that Sports Illustrated published AI-generated articles. According to our initial investigation, this is not accurate.
The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon…
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 27, 2023
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