Sports Illustrated Publisher Fires CEO After AI Scandal

Late last month, we reported that venerable magazine Sports Illustrated had been publishing commerce articles bylined by nonexistent writers with AI-generated profile pictures. The revelation sparked a storm of media coverage and outrage from the magazine’s staff. The week after our story ran, Sports Illustrated publisher The Arena Group sacked two top executives, claiming the departures had nothing to do with the AI story. And yet. There’s now been another major shakeup, with The Arena Group announcing Monday afternoon that its board of directors has terminated the employment of its CEO, Ross Levinsohn. “Effective immediately, Ross Levinsohn will be leaving the company and his role as CEO,” wrote Grady Tripp, the company’s senior vice president of people, in an email to staff. “This follows the recent departure of three senior executives last week.” A press release also went out to business news wires — discrete with this news, they are not. Manoj Bharga, the founder of the energy drink brand 5-hour Energy and majority investor of The Arena Group, will be joining as a temporary CEO. During a meeting about the termination of the execs last week, Bharga made headlines for lecturing staff to “stop doing dumb stuff” and saying the “amount of useless stuff you guys do is staggering.” He also outlawed Powerpoint presentations. After our initial story, The Arena Group issued a statement explaining that the articles with the AI-generated headshots had been provided by a contractor called AdVon Commerce. It also deleted all the articles by fake authors, yet…Sports Illustrated Publisher Fires CEO After AI Scandal

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