Sports Illustrated’s publisher is using AI to generate fitness advice

Another major publisher is using AI to generate stories in the name of efficiency.

Arena Group Holdings, a media firm whose brands include Sports Illustrated, TheStreet, Parade, and Men’s Journal, says it’s partnering with AI language startups Jasper and Nota to broaden and increase the speed of “its AI-assisted efforts.” These include training AI language models on the company’s archives to generate stories that are then edited by humans.

This article is a curation of expert advice from Men’s Fitness, using deep-learning tools for retrieval combined with OpenAI’s large language model for various stages of the workflow. This article was reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team.

The disclaimer’s language is intended to reassure — “curation,” “expert advice,” “reviewed and fact-checked” — but this hybrid authorship approach is far from infallible. Earlier this month, it was revealed that CNET has been quietly publishing AI-generated articles after being pushed into money-saving schemes by new owner Red Ventures. However, when reviewing these articles following criticism of the lack of proper disclosure, Red Ventures found that more than half contained errors and required correction. This is due to the propensity of AI language tools to generate plausible-looking but incorrect information. (As the computer science professor Arvind Narayanan put it, “ChatGPT is a bullshit generator.”)

Arena Group claims that it doesn’t want to replace journalists with its increased use of AI but, rather, create “enterprise value for our brands and partners” (to quote CEO Ross Levinsohn). In a press release announcing the news, the company claims that the use of AI increased “workflow efficiencies by more than 10 times the normal rate.”

The announcement follows news last week that BuzzFeed will use AI to help generate and personalize more content like quizzes in 2023. The company’s stock surged in reaction but has since lost some of those gains. Shares in Arena Group Holdings also rose after the company announced its AI news (from $8.82 yesterday to $9.14 at the time of writing), though this figure is still just below the company’s share price at the end of January.

“Will [working with AI] enable us to do more content? Probably, because you’ll have more time,” Arena Group’s Levinsohn told The Wall Street Journal. But, he added, “It’s not about ‘crank out AI content and do as much as you can.’ Google will penalize you for that and more isn’t better; better is better.” 

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