July 12, 2024

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Sports Illustrated is accused of publishing articles written by AI and then attributing them to reporters who don’t exist: ‘The mistake is trying to hide it’

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Sports Illustrated is the latest media company to see its reputation damaged by being less than forthcoming — if not outright dishonest — about who or what is writing its stories at the dawn of the artificial intelligence age.

The once-powerful publication said it was firing a company that produced articles for its website written under the byline of authors who apparently don’t exist. But it denied a published report that stories themselves were written by an artificial intelligence tool.

Earlier this year, experiments with AI went awry at both the Gannett newspaper chain and the CNET technology website. Many companies are testing the new technology at a time when human workers fear it could cost jobs. But the process is fraught in journalism, which builds and markets its values-based products around the notions of truth and transparency.

While there’s nothing wrong in media companies experimenting with artificial intelligence, “the mistake is in trying to hide it, and in doing it poorly,” said Tom Rosenstiel, a University of Maryland professor who teaches journalism ethics.

“If you want to be in the truth-telling business, which journalists claim they do, you shouldn’t tell lies,” Rosenstiel said. “A secret is a form of lying.”


Sports Illustrated, now run as a website and once-monthly publication by the Arena Group, at one time was a weekly in the Time Inc. stable of magazines known for its sterling writing. “Its ambitions were grand,” said Jeff Jarvis, author of “Magazine,” a book he describes as an elegy for the industry.

On Monday, the Futurism website reported that Sports Illustrated used stories for product reviews that had authors it could not identify. Futurism found a picture of one author listed, Drew Ortiz, on a website that sells AI-generated portraits.

The magazine’s author profile said that “Drew has spent much of his life outdoors, and is excited…

David Bauder, The Associated Press

2023-11-28 20:21:23

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