STATEMENT: The Atlantic Union alarmed, demands answers after licensing, product deal with OpenAI


The unionized members of The Atlantic Editorial and Business and Technology units are deeply troubled by the opaque agreement The Atlantic has made with OpenAI, and especially by management’s complete lack of transparency about what the agreement entails and how it will affect our work. Atlantic staffers have largely learned of this agreement from outside sources, and both the company and OpenAI have refused to answer questions about the terms of the deal. Instead, they’ve directed staffers to the very same outside reporting. 

The Atlantic has defended the values of transparency and intellectual honesty for more than 160 years. Its legacy is built on integrity, derived from the work of its writers, editors, producers, and business staff. OpenAI, on the other hand, has used news articles to train AI technologies like ChatGPT without permission. The people who continue to maintain and serve The Atlantic deserve to know what precisely management has licensed to an outside firm and how, specifically, they plan to use the archive of our creative output and our work product. 

As an article published in The Atlantic last week noted, the history of heralded tech-journalism partnerships is one where outlets "make concessions to platforms that attempt to take all of the audience (and trust) that great journalism attracts, without ever having to do the complicated and expensive work of the journalism itself. And it never, ever works as planned." Atlantic staffers deserve to know why the company leadership believes this time is different. 

Management should immediately make the terms of the deal available to Atlantic staffers and then convene an all-hands meeting to answer our questions honestly, clearly, and without spin. 

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