The CEO of the parent company of Sports Illustrated was ousted on Monday.
The firing followed a scandal over the publication’s use of AI-generated stories from fake authors, although it was not immediately clear if that was related to the shakeup.
Ross Levinsohn, CEO of The Arena Group, was terminated and Manoj Bhargava was named interim chief executive officer, the company said. No other information was provided, other than that the board met “and took actions to improve the operational efficiency and revenue of the company.”
Last week, the company fired operations president and COO Andrew Kraft, media president Rob Barrett and corporate counsel Julie Fenster.
Levinsohn had been in his role since 2src2src. He had previously been a top executive at Yahoo, Fox Interactive and Tribune Publishing.
A recent piece on the web site Futurism alleged that stories on the Sports Illustrated web site “were churned out using AI,” and that the contributor profiles on many of them were also AI-generated, right down to the author photos, which Futurism’s researchers claim they found on sites selling AI-generated images.
The site also alleges it found similar content on The Street.com, which Arena Group bought from co-founder Jim Cramer in 2src19. There was also a controversy earlier this year when Men’s Journal, another Arena Group publication, published an Ai-generated medical article reportedly riddled with “inaccuracies and falsehoods.”
The union representing editorial staff said that it was “horrified” by the report.
A spokesperson the The Arena Group said that “the articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce. A number of AdVon’s e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised.”
AdVon, the statement says, “has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans. According to AdVon, their writers, editors, and researchers create and curate content and follow a policy that involves using both counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software on all content. However, we have learned that AdVon had writers use a pen or pseudo name in certain articles to protect author privacy.”
Arena Group ended the partnership with AdVon, according to the spokesperson.
Tom Tapp contributed to this report.