Over 1,000 members of the Writers Guild of America East union have signed a petition in support of introducing ways to protect journalists from artificial intelligence. The open letter demands that they be included in the decision-making process concerning AI tools in their places of employment.
The writers signing on include WGA East members at BDG, CBS News, Chalkbeat, CNET, Crooked Media, Fast Company, Financial Times Specialist, FRONTLINE, Future PLC, Gimlet, G/O Media, GroupNine, Inc., The Intercept, Hearst, HuffPost, iHeartMedia Podcasts, MSNBC, Parcast, Pineapple Street Studios, Slate, The Ringer, VICE, Vox Media, and more.
Among the film and television writers signing the petition are Robert Carlock, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Fontana, Mary Harron, Soo Hugh, Natasha Lyonne, Julie Martin, Adam McKay, Stephen O’Donnell, Michael Rauch, Diana Son, Jim Taylor, and WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.
The petition reads:
“We, the members of the Writers Guild of America East, recognize that digital media companies are eager to deploy generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools throughout our industry. We recognize there are ways AI can support our work — but we also know that this technology can introduce factual errors, perpetuate racist biases, compromise data privacy, and diminish our readers’ trust. We’ve already seen publications make embarrassing fumbles by rushing out AI-generated content, resulting in widespread reputational harm and reader mistrust.
We, the workers who create the stories, art, videos and podcasts our audiences love, are uniquely positioned to help identify beneficial uses of generative AI in our industry and flag potential problems. In the spirit of working collaboratively to preserve the journalistic integrity of our work, we call on our employers to:
Work collaboratively with us, the workers, before implementing AI tools in our workplaces. Commit to discussing new and emerging technologies with workers to ensure they’re applied in ethical and equitable ways.
Publicly commit to never replacing a human worker with an AI tool, a promise that would help restore trust with both workers who feel threatened by the emergence of AI in their workplaces and readers who feel uneasy about AI-produced content.
Engage in immediate, good faith negotiations on AI outside of scheduled contract bargaining AND a guarantee that AI protections will be on the table in future bargaining.”
Writers Guild of America East Executive Director Lowell Peterson said, “The labor movement is leading the existential fight to protect workers from AI. The Writers Guild of America East, having joined the successful battle for meaningful protections for film and TV writers, is working to protect all of our sectors from employers that would use AI to undermine our members’ work and livelihoods.”
WGAE’s Vice President of Online Media Sara David said, “The implementation of generative AI in journalism is a direct threat to the jobs of hard-working writers. Along with serious concerns of AI replacing union workers, its track record of producing biased and discriminatory content is further reason for careful and collaborative regulations. We cannot allow artificial intelligence to cannibalize the hard work of our journalists.”
A version of the full petition with signees can be found here.