What’s stopping a writer from putting an assignment brief into the chatbot, waiting for a story to generate and then submitting that to an editor? FYI, I haven’t done it yet but we will see how long that will last… just kidding.

Technically none of the heads of content at the major publications (nor here at Wishu…)  have explicitly told contributors not to use ChatGPT to the degree of generating a story or had updated their freelance contracts since ChatGPT’s launch. Having said that, most publications do have steps in their writing and publishing processes to check if anything’s been plagiarised.

From a freelance writer perspective, neither myself nor any of my copywriter friends have yet received any communication regarding ChatGPT from the publications we work with.

Jill Schildhouse, a freelance writer and editor, made a great point along these lines in an article with DigiDay. “How do they know that their freelancers aren’t submitting AI content? Are there plagiarism concerns? What other ethical concerns surround this? Outlets are going to have to come up with some type of guidelines around how it’s used, both internally … [and] with their freelancers.”

On the other hand, should a freelancer be paid for an article if they use ChatGPT given that the publication heads could most likely create that generated content themselves? ChatGPT’s technology quite frankly isn’t there yet to write flawless articles with great SEO consideration. For these reasons, Forbes’ chief content officer Randall Lane and Eve Epstein, svp and gm at Leaf Group’s Hunker, have both said they thought it was too early to have guidelines on the use of ChatGPT in place, especially since the technology isn’t advanced enough to generate a story worthy of submitting to an editor.

At the end of the day, transparency between a contributor and editor is key — and the arrival of ChatGPT doesn’t change that.

I’d like to close with some very clear and very wise words from Alex Mahadevan, director of MediaWise at The Poynter Institute; “In the world of journalism and transparency for readers, there really should be no grey areas. It should be very, very clear how the news gathering process works.”

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