Greetings, comms pros! Let’s look at some news stories from this week and see what lessons we can learn from them.
1 . WGA calls for AI-generated articles to cease on G/O Media sites
Amid the ongoing writer’s strike, there’s been a demand on the part of the writer’s union — they want G/O’s Media’s initiative to produce written content with AI to come to an end.
“Our members in the GMG Union and Onion Union have demanded bargaining from G/O Media on this new workplace development to no avail,” WGAE said today. Read the full WGA East statement below.
Calling bot-penned journalism “an oxymoron,” the union noted that “last week, G/O Media published AI-generated articles on several unionized properties, embarrassing staff who work hard under untenable conditions to fill websites with relevant, accurate, and engaging journalism. The posted articles, called ‘tests’ by G/O management, were riddled with errors and even an ethnic slur. Management’s ill-considered decision to use AI — after both unions openly and preemptively pleaded against it — garnered deservedly negative media coverage everywhere—industry trades, technology sites, and even Fox News.”
AI has a lot of uses. It can help you break down data sets quickly. It can help you outline a longer-form piece of content. One thing it can’t do is replace the ingenuity and insight of a human writer—especially when that writer works in a creative context. AI can’t replicate a writer’s humor, wit, nuance or the lived experiences that shape their identity. The same traits are highly unique in communicators, who are fortified with a unique and ever-evolving perspective for what the organization, and its audiences, want. Good on the writers for standing up for their craft.
2. Former Twitter employees file lawsuit over severance pay
The controversy beat rolls on at Twitter. Reports state that ex-employees of the social media giant are suing the company to relieve the separation pay they claim they’re owed.
Courtney McMillian, who oversaw Twitter’s employee benefits programs as its “head of total rewards” before she was laid off in January, filed the proposed class action in San Francisco federal court.
McMillian claims that under a severance plan created by Twitter in 2019, most workers were promised two months of their base pay plus one week of pay for each full year of service if they were laid off. Senior employees such as McMillian were owed six months of base pay, according to the lawsuit.
But Twitter only gave laid-off workers at most one month of severance pay, and many of them did not receive anything, McMillian claims. Twitter laid off more than half of its workforce as a cost-cutting measure after Musk acquired the company in October.
Twitter no longer has a media relations department. The company responded to a request for comment from Reuters with a poop emoji.
That last line is really something. Without a media relations department, how can Twitter expect to handle any of the seemingly stacking controversies that the company has been courting lately? One of the biggest assets a communicator brings to the table is an ability to build relationships with and communicate through, the media. If it had a media relations department, maybe this story would be playing out a bit differently.
3. JP Morgan CEO claims remote workers can’t be leaders
Remote work has a lot of benefits, including flexibility and increase mental health potential. But JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon doesn’t seem to think the benefits outweigh the costs.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is no fan of remote work. He’s previously claimed it suppresses “spontaneous idea generation.” Now he’s talking again about his distaste for working from home—and taking aim at remote managers in particular.
“I don’t know how you can be a leader and not be completely accessible to your people. I do not believe you can be a leader and not be accessible to your people,” Dimon told The Economist editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes during a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday, in which he also discussed the economy, U.S.-China relations, and his own legacy at the financial services firm.
Tell us how you really feel, Jamie! While he did concede later in the interview that some roles might be suited to remote work, this is a rigid take on very nuanced issue. Geographically-dispersed organizations are the future —- they enable people more freedom of location and conversely, opening up the pool of talent for companies to entirely new areas. Whatever stance your organization takes on remote work, be sure to keep the people it’s affecting in the feedback loop early, and always communicate with empathy and understanding first.
4. How about some good news?
- A man in Kentucky discovered millions of dollars worth of Civil War-era coins
- A train driver rescued a frightened pug, leading to an emotional reunion with the dog’s owners
- A study revealed dolphins use “baby talk” with their calves
- Ragan Training is great for communications pros to find inspiration and resources.
- You should be rewarded for your work. Find out how to earn an award here!
Have a great weekend comms all-stars!
Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.