With More AI Experiments, News Media Faces an Existential Moment

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Sports Illustrated and Gannett allegedly used AI to write articles, and big companies like News Corp. are testing the waters

Illustration by Chris Smith

The Sports Illustrated article about volleyball was weird.

“Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and for good reason,” it began. “It’s fast-paced, has a high skill ceiling, and is generally an exciting sport to both play and watch.” It then pivoted awkwardly to: “Volleyball can be a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with.”

The article, deleted after its authorship was challenged as being AI-generated, is a recent example of how publications like Sports Illustrated and USA Today have begun experimenting with the technology, part of an ongoing shift at news publications driven by the breakneck speed at which AI is being developed, implemented and embraced.

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