1000+ WGAE Members Demand AI Protections for Journalists
NEW YORK, NY (October 30, 2023) – More than 1,000 Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) members signed a petition to support introducing ways to protect journalists from the ever-growing existential threat of artificial intelligence (AI), and to demand they’re included in the decision-making process regarding AI tools in their workplaces.
Among the writers who signed the petition are WGAE members at ABC News, BDG, CBS News, Chalkbeat, CNET, Crooked Media, Fast Company, Financial Times Specialist, FRONTLINE, Future PLC, Gimlet, G/O Media, GroupNine, Inc., The Intercept, Hearst, HuffPost, iHeartMedia Podcasts, MSNBC, Parcast, Pineapple Street Studios, Slate, The Ringer, VICE, Vox Media, and more.
In addition, film and television writers who signed the petition include Robert Carlock, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Fontana, Mary Harron, Soo Hugh, Natasha Lyonne, Julie Martin, Adam McKay, Stephen O’Donnell, Michael Rauch, Diana Son, Jim Taylor, and WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.
The petition reads:
We, the members of the Writers Guild of America East, recognize that digital media companies are eager to deploy generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools throughout our industry. We recognize there are ways AI can support our work — but we also know that this technology can introduce factual errors, perpetuate racist biases, compromise data privacy, and diminish our readers’ trust. We’ve already seen publications make embarrassing fumbles by rushing out AI-generated content, resulting in widespread reputational harm and reader mistrust.
We, the workers who create the stories, art, videos and podcasts our audiences love, are uniquely positioned to help identify beneficial uses of generative AI in our industry and flag potential problems. In the spirit of working collaboratively to preserve the journalistic integrity of our work, we call on our employers to:
Work collaboratively with us, the workers, before implementing AI tools in our workplaces. Commit to discussing new and emerging technologies with workers to ensure they’re applied in ethical and equitable ways.
Publicly commit to never replacing a human worker with an AI tool, a promise that would help restore trust with both workers who feel threatened by the emergence of AI in their workplaces and readers who feel uneasy about AI-produced content.
Engage in immediate, good faith negotiations on AI outside of scheduled contract bargaining AND a guarantee that AI protections will be on the table in future bargaining.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America East, said, “The labor movement is leading the existential fight to protect workers from AI. The Writers Guild of America East, having joined the successful battle for meaningful protections for film and tv writers, is working to protect all of our sectors from employers that would use AI to undermine our members’ work and livelihoods.”
Sara David, WGAE’s Vice President of Online Media, said, “The implementation of generative AI in journalism is a direct threat to the jobs of hard-working writers. Along with serious concerns of AI replacing union workers, its track record of producing biased and discriminatory content is further reason for careful and collaborative regulations. We cannot allow artificial intelligence to cannibalize the hard work of our journalists.”
ABOUT THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA EAST
The Writers Guild of America East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, broadcast and streaming news, podcasts, and online media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.