This is Behind the Blog, where we share our behind-the-scenes thoughts about how a few of our top stories of the week came together. This week, we're looking at what OpenAI and Harry Potter fanfic have in common, Disney's AI generated copyright, and questions about Hugging Face's selectively-enforced terms.
JASON: Besides making me wonder about the privacy implications of people’s beds, this extremely unhinged tweet by the CEO of Eight Sleep, which sells an expensive smart mattress topper, got me thinking about sleep, mental health, reporting, the news, OpenAI, and things of this nature. We call this Behind the Blog, and I ran a tech website with a team of between 12 and 24 people for six years, so I wanted to give you my perspective on feeding frenzies like OpenAI’s palace intrigue, what I think that looks like in a newsroom, and my personal perspective on how “the tech press” covers these types of stories.
First of all, I think what happened at OpenAI over the last week is important, and there has been some really good reporting on the play-by-play of what’s happened by people at The Verge, Semafor, the Information, Axios, WSJ, and others. I understand why people care, and I am certainly not above the drama of all of this. That said, when a story like this completely captures the public’s attention, there’s this impulse for newsrooms to pivot all of their reporting resources to it kind of regardless of whether that newsroom is actually positioned to break news on the topic, or reveal new information about it.
As we’ve stated from the very beginning, 404 Media is primarily focused on doing ground-up reporting and reporting on how technology impacts people and marginalized communities. That’s one way of saying that none of us are actively sourced up at OpenAI or within the VC world. We were not positioned to break news about who the next CEO would be, what was happening at Microsoft, whether Sam Altman is coming back, etc, because we explicitly have made choices to become experts in other subjects and to approach AI reporting in a different way.