G/O Media Vows to ‘Dismiss the Trivial’ Backlash in Memo to A.V. Club Staff About AI-Generated Stories

The site is “quite aware of the vast amount of feedback we received after the AI material was published in July,” the company’s editorial director says

Merrill Brown became G/O Media's editorial director in January 2023

G/O Media is “quite aware” of the initial backlash to its rollout of AI-generated stories but has vowed to ignore the “industry chatter” after its latest AI article, which is credited to “The A.V. Club Bot.”

On Monday, the site published a list of upcoming 2023 movie releases, with the editorial note, “This article is based on data from IMDb. Text was compiled by an AI engine that was then reviewed and edited by the editorial staff.”

Social media users were quick to slam the company for its continued embrace of articles that are created or compiled by artificial intelligence. (We should note that a lot of these people mistakenly think A.V. Club is still part of The Onion.)

“MST3K” writer Tammy Golden called the move “sickening” and stated that The Onion, of which The A.V. Club was originally a part of, is now “pure corporate grossness.”

Author Brandon Brown tweeted, “AV CLUB is officially trash.”

G/O Media did not have a response to TheWrap of these Twitter reactions but forwarded a memo from editorial director Merrill Brown to staff. On Monday, he reiterated the company’s commitment to AI articles despite the “external commentary.”

“All of us working on these initiatives are quite aware of the vast amount of feedback we received after the AI material was published in July,” his note to the editorial team read in part. He said that while the internal dialogue was “very constructive and thoughtful,” the “external commentary” amounts to “chatter,” that should be “dismissed.”

“Several of us are very familiar with this kind of chatter as it’s part of an inevitable media industry feedback loop that comes with the advance of new technologies like the Internet in the nineties and more recently the widespread use of streaming media technology. The best way to deal with industry chatter of this kind is to process it, dismiss the trivial and learn from what surfaces that’s thoughtful and of real value,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed announced it is also upping its AI content, which so far has included quizzes, games and image-based posts. Amid a disappointing Q2, CEO Jonah Peretti said that their bot-produced articles have delivered “increased engagement,” adding, “Building towards that future and aligning our business with that positive trend is something that we’re very focused on.”