Earlier this month, Arena Group, which owns magazines including Men’s Journal and Sports Illustrated, announced that it’d start publishing AI-generated articles. Its CEO and chairman Ross Levinsohn, however, vowed that “AI will never replace journalism.”
Sounds like that’s not going so great. Continuing a years-long cutbacks campaign, Sports Illustrated has been hit with another round of devastating layoffs affecting over a dozen workers.
“Hello! I’ve been laid off from [SI]. Not great!” tweeted Chris Almeida, a former editor for the magazine.
“After seven and a half years of writing about the NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, LPGA, World Cup, Olympics and more, I, too, have been laid off by Sports Illustrated this morning,” rejoined Alex Prewitt, a former senior writer.
According to an internal memo obtained by Awful Announcing, Arena Group has laid off a sizable 17 employees and created 12 openings to “reflect the new needs of the SI business.” (Something tells us those “new needs” might involve accommodating the generative AI the parent company has been brandishing at Men’s Journal.)
“Today is a day of change in our Sports business,” the memo reads. “We are restructuring our Sports Illustrated group to reflect how consumers engage with us, and how we address the needs of our partners and audience.”
It appears Sports Illustrated is following in the footsteps of CNET, a once-esteemed tech site that was caught secretively churning out error riddled AI-generated articles after rounds of quiet layoffs.
And on the accuracy front, Arena Group’s AI-guided dreck isn’t doing any better. Futurism, with the help of a medical expert, found that its very first AI article for Men’s Journal, titled “What All Men Should Know About Low Testosterone,” contained at least 18 factual errors, despite the authoritative tone of its synthesized prose. Not what you’d want out of something that’s supposed to be giving health advice to the site’s vast readership.
In response, the article was hastily and extensively rewritten to account for the inaccuracies. Some still slipped through the cracks.
That didn’t seem to bother Arena, though. A spokesperson from the group stated in a statement provided to Futurism that the company was “confident in the articles.”
While Sports Illustrated itself is yet to make use of a generative AI for its stories — at least in a way that’s disclosed to readers — it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before it’s forced to. Arena, after all, has just laid down the hammer on the size of its staff, and with other outlets including Buzzfeed already blazing ahead with AI content, the industry at large looks teed up to be overrun with bots.