Gizmodo owner G/O Media laid off editors of its Spanish-language site Gizmodo en Español and is now using AI to translate articles.
Matías S. Zavia, a writer at Gizmodo en Español, posted that the publication was shut down on August 29th and that it would now publish automatically translated articles. Gizmodo en Español previously had a small staff who wrote original stories and created Spanish-language adaptations of pieces from the English-language Gizmodo.
New articles posted on Gizmodo en Español now feature a disclaimer at the bottom in Spanish saying that its “contents have been automatically translated from the original. Due to the nuances of machine translation, there can be slight differences.”
The transition to AI translation has not been smooth, though. Readers posted on X, formerly Twitter, that some articles will start in Spanish and then suddenly change to English.
Spanish website AZ Adslzone reported Gizmodo en Español’s team was told via video call of the decision. G/O Media did not return a request for comment.
News organizations have been experimenting with generative AI to help write news stories or lists as a way to pump out more content without paying more writers.
G/O Media began posting AI-written articles to Gizmodo in July, but these first iterations contained factual errors. Staffers claimed they were not told the stories would be posted until shortly before publication. Journalists at G/O Media’s different outlets expressed dismay with the decision to publish AI-generated stories without their knowledge, and their union, GMG Union, asked readers not to click on any AI-written news. (Disclosure: GMG Union is part of the Writer’s Guild of America, East; Vox Media’s editorial team, which includes The Verge, is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.)
The GMG Union, represented by the Writer’s Guild of America, East, expressed disappointment over the firing of Gizmodo en Español’s staff.
“Unfortunately, this move to eliminate the Español team represents yet another broken promise from G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller and Editorial Director Merill Brown, who have repeatedly said that the company’s AI experiments were intended to supplement human writing, not replace it,” the union said in a tweet.
The union said the site had four employees who had yearly contracts with the company and will be unable to receive “adequate severance.”
Gizmodo en Español started after former owner, the now defunct Gawker Media, bought the site Guanabee in 2012, Insider reported then. The Spanish site represented the first international expansion of Gawker.
Update September 6th, 4:20PM ET: The story has been updated with a statement from the GMG Union. The headline has also been clarified.