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  • Writer's pictureAlina Stehle

Sports Illustrated Scandal Raises Questions About the Use of AI in Journalism

Sports Illustrated, a longstanding magazine of sports reporting, finds itself in a big scandal. A recent revelation has sent shockwaves through the industry, challenging the very core of journalistic integrity. It has come to light that the revered publication has been utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to generate articles, all without disclosing this pivotal detail to its readership.

Have you noticed anything strange about this introduction? It took me only one click to create it and after two seconds ChatGPT finished the introduction for my article. While AI is not yet capable of replacing journalists, it has gained prominence in journalism and is challenging the core of journalistic reporting.

The Sports Illustrated scandal shows that using AI without being transparent and faking authors' names is not tolerated by audiences. The journalist Bart Brouwers tells The Groninger that the Sports Illustrated example shows two mistakes at once. By hiding their use of AI, they lost the trust of their readers because they weren't transparent. Also, by using AI in such a half-hearted way, it can't have a positive impact on the progression of journalism.

“We have an obligation to look at opportunities of AI.” Bart Brouwers

But what about online magazines that communicate that they publish articles with AI? Laio writes for the news site innovationorigins, but she is not a human. It's a pilot project to find out the strengths and weaknesses of AI in journalism. “The development of AI is only starting and we want to be part of it and not leave it to the big tech companies,” says Bart Brouwers, CEO of the news platform. He believes that journalists have stayed away from technological developments for too long. If journalists don't use it, others who don't have the reporting expertise will use it anyway, thinks Brouwers.

Through his work with Laio, he observes the strengths of AI in the ideation and research phase of journalism. "The reporting part is more difficult and still far from where you want it to be," he says. The errors of AI lead to a lack of credibility. Also, original reporting is not possible because AI can only reproduce knowledge, Brouwers states.

“Being transparent about the use of AI and training journalists on how to recognize AI is necessary,” says Brouwers. He is of the opinion that the public is more ready for AI than journalists are.

The Audience Responds to AI

"If journalists don't look at AI, others will, and the result will probably not be better," says Nicolas von Hauff sharing Brouwers views. The 25-year-old believes that the efficiency of AI is at odds with the possibility of fake news, making it difficult to have a clear opinion on AI in journalism. Von Hauff believes that we are still far from replacing human journalists with AI and he is generally open and interested in the new possibilities that AI offers.

Richard Smith (25) values the impact humans have on sports reporting: "Sports journalism is all about human insight and opinions." He would only rely on AI-based articles if they were published by a trusted news outlet and not a by an unknown freelance journalist. For Smith, cases like the Sports Illustrated scandal don't destroy his overall trust in journalism, but if there is a significant shift to fake news, he would start to doubt its reliability.

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