In a surprising move, G/O Media has fired the four full-time staffers of Gizmodo en Español as the company transitioned to using an automated translation service. This decision was announced in an internal memo from Editorial Director Merrill Brown, which failed to mention the fate of the Spanish site’s employees. In the memo, Brown stated that this was the first step in their plan to create local language editions of their journalism. G/O Media spokespersons have declined to comment further on the matter, but a source familiar with the company’s plans revealed that Google Translate was being used for the translations.
Since the transition to automated translations, several issues have arisen. An analysis by Futurism found that the translated articles were often incorrect or not fully translated. Some articles also had formatting and punctuation errors, while others contained HTML code within the published version of the story. Despite these issues, one source claims that the site’s traffic has doubled since the adoption of automated translations.
This move has further strained the relationship between G/O Media and its employees. The company’s use of artificial intelligence in various aspects of its operations has already led to the departure of multiple editors. The company has previously stated that its goal is to hire more journalists and that AI would only supplement human writing, not replace it. However, this recent move to automate translation raises questions about the company’s commitment to that promise.
The Gizmodo Media Group Union criticized G/O Media’s decision, calling it another broken promise and stating that the four Español staffers’ bylines were removed from their published articles. It should be noted that the employees who were laid off were not part of the union.
G/O Media had announced in June that it would begin testing AI-produced stories across its properties, but the recent string of AI-related decisions has left many employees frustrated. The controversy surrounding these moves even resulted in the resignation of Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett. Despite these issues, a G/O Media spokesperson previously stated that they do not plan on laying off editorial staff due to AI activities.
Sources: Vox, The Daily Beast, Confider