The Chicago Journal

Gannett’s AI Experiment Halted Amidst Controversy

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Newspaper conglomerate Gannett has recently decided to pause its utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) for crafting high school sports articles. This decision comes in the wake of numerous errors and shortcomings discovered in articles produced by an AI service known as LedeAI, which were published in at least one of Gannett’s newspapers. This unexpected turn of events garnered significant attention on social media, drawing sharp criticisms for the AI-generated content’s repetitive nature, lack of crucial details, peculiar language, and an overall absence of genuine sports expertise. Let’s delve deeper into this unfolding situation.

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The Viral Backlash

In a remarkable case preserved by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, a story commenced with the following sentence: “The Worthington Christian [[WINNING_TEAM_MASCOT]] defeated the Westerville North [[LOSING_TEAM_MASCOT]] 2-1 in an Ohio boys soccer game on Saturday.” This snippet encapsulates the kind of errors and oddities that plagued these AI-generated reports, which subsequently spread across social media for all the wrong reasons.

Widespread Impact

The repercussions of this AI experiment gone awry extended beyond a single newspaper. Notably, CNN identified several other local Gannett publications, including the Louisville Courier Journal, AZ Central, Florida Today, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that also published similar stories written by LedeAI in recent weeks. These reports exhibited a disconcerting level of uniformity in language, often describing “high school football action” and repeatedly emphasizing the date of the games within just a few paragraphs.

Gannett’s Response

In response to the growing controversy, Gannett decided to halt its experimentation with LedeAI across all its local markets where the service was in use. The decision reflects Gannett’s commitment to maintaining high journalistic standards while exploring automation and AI as tools for its journalists. A spokesperson for Gannett stated:

“In addition to adding hundreds of reporting jobs across the country, we are experimenting with automation and AI to build tools for our journalists and add content for our readers,” a Gannett spokesperson said in a statement. “We are continually evaluating vendors as we refine processes to ensure all the news and information we provide meets the highest journalistic standards.”

LedeAI CEO’s Perspective

Jay Allred, the CEO of LedeAI, expressed remorse for the errors and repetitive content that appeared in articles produced for Gannett newspapers. He acknowledged the validity of the feedback received and initiated immediate efforts to rectify the issues. Despite the setbacks, Allred affirmed his belief in content automation as a vital part of the future of local newsrooms. He emphasized that automation services like LedeAI provide readers with unique information and free up reporters and editors to focus on impactful journalism within their communities.

“There were legitimate problems with the reports we produced and the feedback we received was valid,” Allred said in a statement, adding:

“We believe content automation is part of the future of local newsrooms … Our service provides readers and communities with information they would not otherwise have, and frees reporters and editors to do real journalism that drives impact in the communities they serve.”

Ongoing Corrections

To address the AI-generated content’s deficiencies, updates and corrections have been made to several Dispatch sports stories written by the service. These revisions aim to rectify errors in coding, programming, and style, ensuring a higher quality of content moving forward.

Broader Context

This incident raises questions about the role of AI in the news industry and how news outlets can effectively navigate the rapid advancements in AI technology. It serves as a reminder that while automation can be a valuable tool, it should not compromise the quality and authenticity of journalism.


In conclusion, Gannett’s decision to pause its AI experiment with LedeAI highlights the complexities and challenges that arise when implementing AI in journalism. While the potential benefits of automation are clear, maintaining the highest journalistic standards remains a top priority. This situation underscores the need for a careful and thoughtful approach to the integration of AI in newsrooms.