'No One Is Important:' Senior Executives at 'Sports Illustrated' Publishing House Are Out of a Job Following AI Article Controversy The owner of the magazine's publisher, The Area Group, claims the shakeup was unrelated to the recent scandal.
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Two top executives at The Arena Group, the publishing company that owns Sports Illustrated, have been ousted from the media conglomerate after the magazine's AI-generated article scandal.
COO Andrew Kraft and president Rob Barrett were fired from their roles, a representative for The Arena Group's majority owner Manoj Bhargava, the billionaire founder of 5-Hour Energy, confirmed to Futurism. Arena Group's CEO, Ross Levinsohn, will stay in his position.
However, the rep claims the recent dismissals were unrelated to the company's recent AI scandal and were part of Bhargava's restructuring plan.
"Some adjustments to the business have been made to improve efficiency and revenue, and also some changes to senior management have been made," the company said in a statement to Front Office Sports.
During a Wednesday town hall meeting, Bhargava, who became the controlling shareholder in August, addressed the changes in the call.
"No one is important," he said, a source who was present for the meeting told the outlet.
"I am not important…the amount of useless stuff you guys do is staggering," he added.
Just over a week ago, Futurism revealed that Sports Illustrated and TheStreet, owned by The Arena Group, were publishing affiliate commerce articles with AI-generated text and phony author bylines and profiles without disclosing it.
The Arena Group has since refuted the accusations and claims the third-party content provider, AdVon Commerce, was merely using "pen names" for articles written by real human writers, per The Hill.
Following the news of the higher-up shakeup, The Arena Group stock rose by 11.9%, according to The Wrap.
The Arena Group also owns Parade, Men's Journal and several other publications. It is currently in the process of merging with Bridge Media Networks, The Wrap stated.