After months of questions about how CNET has been using artificial intelligence tools for a long time CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo is stepping down and taking on a new job: senior vice president of AI content strategy and general editor, according to an internal draft memo distributed today, a copy of which was obtained by The edge.
In her new role, Guglielmo will work on the machine learning strategy at Red Ventures, the private equity-backed media company that acquired the tech news site in 2020. Adam Auriemma, the former editor-in-chief of another Red Ventures outlet, next advisorbecomes editor-in-chief. next advisora personal finance outlet, appears to be no longer active – the site’s Twitter account hasn’t been posted since January, it no longer appears on the Red Ventures brand list, and the website redirects to CNET.
Guglielmo’s move into her artificial intelligence role comes just hours after that The edge reported that mass layoffs were underway at CNET. At least a dozen employees lost their jobs, including some longtime figureheads at the company, according to sources with knowledge of the layoffs. The full extent of the layoffs is not yet clear as staff try to work out which colleagues are involved – the number could be as high as 26 or more, sources say.
After futurism revealed in January that CNET had quietly published dozens of articles generated using AI, Guglielmo and other Red Ventures leaders defended the use of automation tools despite public concerns about how the practice was being implemented. Use of the tool was temporarily suspended while Red Ventures conducted an internal audit of all AI-generated content on its sites. Soon after, more than half of the articles were updated with corrections.
Guglielmo, who has been CNET editor-in-chief for nine years, has championed the use of AI tools at the outlet. She agreed at the end of January a blog post that while the AI-generated stories were discontinued, the editors would continue to test AI tools that would help [CNET’s] plow.”
Several former CNET staff told The edge that editorial independence was broken under the leadership of Guglielmo and owned by Red Ventures. Former staff reported on multiple occasions that employees were pressured to change their jobs to satisfy advertisers, and other team members were repeatedly asked to work on ads and prioritize work that served marketing purposes and scored highly in Google Search.
The latest round of layoffs is far from the first: the first CNET staff told The edge that some teams have been decimated by previous staff cuts, while other staffers have been ousted over time.
Red Ventures did not immediately respond The edgerequest for comment.