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The Scroll

The Student News Site of Fargo North High School

The Scroll

The Scroll

Sports Illustrated: littered with AI & layoffs

Sports Illustrated: littered with AI & layoffs

Imagine you have been the leading voice in sports journalism for the past seven decades with star-studded athletes featured on the covers, just for it to come crumbling down, meeting its slow demise. Well, for Sports Illustrated, the once prominent publication, that is exactly what’s happening. At least the Spartan Scroll article isn’t AI-generated.
It all started when Futurism – a publication based out of New York City – reported in their “Sports Illustrated Tell All” just how far the well-known publication has fallen. According to Futurism, Sports Illustrated is littered with Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, in their articles and the writers themselves.
In one article, the author warns that volleyball “can be a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with.” It feels as if it’s a captain-obvious joke, but it’s odd nonetheless. Drew Ortiz, the author who wrote the article, is actually fake, or at least his profile is. Futurism reports that Drew Ortiz is one of many fake profiles. His profile photo is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he’s described as a “neutral white young adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes.” After Futurism reached out to Sports Illustrated’s publisher, The Arena Group, with questions about the fake profiles, all the AI-generated authors were suddenly removed from the website.
Sports Illustrated came to life thanks to Times Magazine founder, Henry Luce, and since then has been owned by many different organizations. The current owner, Authentic Brands Group, has owned the publication since 2019 but sold its publishing rights to The Arena Group. Since then, The Arena Group has shaken things up by terminating Operations President and COO Andrew Kraft, Media President Rob Barrett, and Corporate Counsel Julie Fenster; all last year. Just last December, the CEO of Sports Illustrated Ross Levinsohn was fired to “improve the operational efficiency and revenue of the company.”
Now fast forward to Jan 19: a mass layoff hits Sports Illustrated with ABC News reporting that a “significant number, if not all” of their jobs were set to be eliminated. The Arena Group also announced a significant reduction to its workforce of 100 employees the week before. This comes after the Authentic Brands Groups revoked Arena Group’s publishing license for Sports Illustrated following their failure to make a quarterly payment of $3.75 million. A spokesperson for Authentic said, “Even though the publishing license has been revoked, we will continue to produce Sports Illustrated until this is resolved.”
Not only has this Sports Illustrated situation been extremely unethical but was a unique combination for eroding readers’ trust. By engaging in such unethical practices, Sports Illustrated has not only betrayed its readers but has also jeopardized its own future. As Sports Illustrated attempts to rebuild its reputation, there is no guarantee that readers will be willing to forgive and forget. It will take time and concentrated effort to regain the trust that has been lost. In the meantime, perhaps readers should explore alternative sources of sports news, ones not tainted by unethical behavior. After all, in a world where A.I. is increasingly involved in creating content, it’s more important than ever to seek out sources that prioritize realness and integrity over ones that produce possible fake products.

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About the Contributor
Grace Schmidt
Grace Schmidt, Writer
Hi! I'm Grace and this is my second year in journalism! I want to continue in college and in the future! It's been one of the best experiences of my life. I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan and even went to her concert, which was life altering. Currently I am in a fight to get the Spartan Scroll funding.
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