Hoodline use of AI to generate 'news' solicits backlash

Occurred: May 2024

The use of AI to create news articles and fictional journalists by US neighbourhood news publisher Hoodline prompted questions about the ethics of the company and its owner. 

According to Gazetteer San Francisco, 'a substantial chunk of content on Hoodline’s website in recent months — save for a handful of stories reported and written by a few longtime (human) contributors — appears to be produced by a synthetic text generator.' 'Additionally,' it added, 'these stories are bylined by a rotating cast of five authors, most, if not all, of whose bylines appear to be AI-generated fabrication.'

The same day, Hoodline publicly announced that it was using AI as part of a shift to 'hybrid content' in which junior-level journalists would use various AI tools to reblog police press releases and create reliable, simple news stories - a model intended to build the traffic and revenue. It also said it would start using a small badge next to each byline, indicating that stories are AI-assisted.

Hoodline was acquired by Impress3 Media in 2021. The fracas was seen to raise questions about Impress3 and Hoodline's ethics, governance and transparency, as well as about the use of AI in journalism more broadly. 

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Hoodline
Developer: Impress3 Media/Hoodline
Country: USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Generate news content
Technology: NLP/text analysis
Issue: Ethics/values
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: May 2024