Following monthslong questions about how CNET uses artificial intelligence tools, longtime CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo will step down from her role and take on a new job: senior vice president of AI content strategy and editor-at-large, according to an internal draft memo circulated today, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge.
In her new role, Guglielmo will work on 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 a different Red Ventures outlet, NextAdvisor, will become editor-in-chief. NextAdvisor, a personal finance outlet, appears to no longer be active — the site’s Twitter account hasn’t posted since January, it no longer appears on Red Ventures’ list of brands, and its website redirects to CNET.
Guglielmo’s move to her artificial intelligence role comes just hours after The Verge 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 work to figure out which colleagues are affected — the number could be as high as 26 or more, sources say.
After Futurism revealed in January that CNET had been quietly publishing dozens of articles generated using AI, Guglielmo and other Red Ventures leaders defended the use of automation tools despite public concern around how the practice was implemented. The tool’s use was temporarily paused while Red Ventures conducted an internal audit of all AI-generated content across 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 defended the use of AI tools at the outlet. In late January, she said in a blog post that though the AI-generated stories were halted, the newsroom would continue testing AI tools that would “help [CNET’s] teams.”
Multiple former CNET staff told The Verge that editorial independence was chipped away under Guglielmo’s leadership and Red Ventures’ ownership. Former staff recounted multiple instances of employees being pressured to change their work to appease advertisers, and other team members were repeatedly asked to work on ads and prioritize work that served marketing purposes and ranked highly in Google search.
The latest round of layoffs is far from the first: former CNET staff told The Verge that some teams have been decimated by past cuts to the workforce, while other staffers have been pushed out over time.
Red Ventures didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.