AI Experiment Backfires as Newspaper Giant Temporarily Halts Sports Reporting

In this post:

  • Gannett, the parent company of USA Today and local newspapers, halts AI experiment due to criticism of AI-generated sports articles.
  • AI-generated sports stories faced backlash for awkward phrasing and lack of detail.
  • LedeAI, the tech company behind the AI-generated articles, acknowledges errors and vows to address concerns.

Gannett, the media conglomerate that owns USA Today and numerous local newspapers, has temporarily suspended its AI experiment (artificial intelligence) after AI-generated sports articles came under fire for their awkward phrasing and lack of substantive content. The controversial move saw several Gannett-owned papers publish sports stories created by AI algorithms, but these articles quickly drew condemnation from readers and social media users.

Columbus Dispatch faces criticism for awkward phrasing

One of the newspapers that bore the brunt of the criticism was the Columbus Dispatch, where AI-generated sports articles were marred by awkward language and unconventional descriptions. One such instance referred to a high school football game as “high school football action,” a choice of words that left readers baffled and unimpressed. This prompted readers to label the article as “terrible” on social media platforms.

Also, the AI system struggled to provide accurate names for sports mascots, resulting in articles that read like this:

“The Worthington Christian [[WINNING_TEAM_MASCOT]] defeated the Westerville North [[LOSING_TEAM_MASCOT]] 2-1 in an Ohio boys soccer game on Saturday.”

Fortunately, this error was rectified, and an editor’s note was added to address the oversight.

Gannett pauses AI experiment amid criticism

In response to the widespread criticism, a spokesperson for Gannett, which oversees more than 200 daily newspapers, confirmed the temporary suspension of their AI experiment. The spokesperson clarified that, alongside the expansion of their reporting workforce nationwide, the company had been exploring automation and AI technologies to develop resources for their journalists and enrich the content offered to their audience. The decision to temporarily suspend the high school sports LedeAI experiment was made as part of their ongoing efforts to assess various vendors and enhance their processes, all with the aim of maintaining the utmost journalistic integrity in their news and information delivery.

The AI-generated articles published on Gannett-owned websites were credited to LedeAI, a tech firm with a dedicated mission of producing dependable, easily digestible, and precise local news reports that align with readers’ preferences, a goal that has often proven challenging for traditional newsrooms to achieve. LedeAI’s CEO, Jay Allred, expressed regret over the errors in the articles and reassured readers that the company was actively addressing the concerns.

In response to the situation, Jay Allred, representing LedeAI, acknowledged the challenges that often accompany new technological advancements, emphasizing that occasional glitches can occur. He expressed regret that a small percentage of the articles, more than 1,000 in total, produced for Gannett newspaper sites on August 19th contained errors, unwanted repetition, and awkward phrasing. In response, a dedicated and continuous effort was launched immediately to address these issues and make appropriate corrections.

He also acknowledged the criticism on social media, particularly on X, as a catalyst for a valuable conversation about the technology. Regarding the ongoing discussion, Jay Allred, expressed the belief that the conversation initiated on the platform X (formerly known as Twitter) served a valuable purpose. He acknowledged that there were indeed genuine issues with the reports generated by their system, and the feedback they received from critics was considered valid. In response to this feedback, they took the criticism seriously and promptly took corrective actions.

AI experiment amid growing integration of generative AI programs

The pause of Gannett’s AI experiment occurs as many companies across various industries work on integrating generative AI programs, such as the popular ChatGPT, into their daily workflows. Some in the media, including German publisher Axel Springer, have speculated about the potential for AI to eventually replace journalists entirely as these systems become better trained in mimicking human-authored news articles. For LedeAI, the belief is that,

 “content automation is part of the future of local newsrooms.” 

Allred elaborated on LedeAI’s mission, highlighting how their use of cutting-edge technology and collaborations with local news organizations enable them to offer high school sports enthusiasts, including student-athletes, parents, and other interested individuals, the opportunity to access concise post-game reports almost immediately after the matches conclude. He emphasized that their service not only provides valuable information to readers and communities that might otherwise be unavailable but also liberates reporters and editors to engage in substantial journalism that has a meaningful impact on the communities they serve.

Gannett’s decision to temporarily halt its AI experiment reflects the ongoing challenges and debates surrounding the integration of artificial intelligence in journalism. While the experiment faced criticism for awkward phrasing and lackluster reporting, it also underscores the potential benefits of content automation in providing timely and localized news coverage. As AI technology continues to evolve, the balance between automation and traditional journalism remains a critical conversation within the industry.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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