Read at Nieman Lab
Online news outlet 404 Media has started requiring readers to provide their email addresses to access stories after discovering that their articles were being scraped and paraphrased by AI text 'spinners' and published on other websites. The cofounders of 404 Media, all former staff members of Vice's tech vertical Motherboard, believe it is important for readers and the public to understand the negative impact of Google, AI, and content mills on the information environment. They aim to provide transparent reporting and cover technology's impact on users in accessible ways.
"It's important to us, and we think it's important to our readers to know why we're doing what we're doing, but it's also in the public interest to know what Google, AI, content mills, etc. are doing to the general health of the information environment."
404 Media was founded with the goal of providing niche communities with relatable and accurate reporting. They want the communities they write about to feel that their articles accurately reflect their concerns and interests. The cofounders drew inspiration from independent publications like Defector and decided to launch 404 Media after experiencing the financial struggles of the news industry.
"Our goal is to find niche communities and see what they care about, what they're happy and excited about, and what they're really upset about. We want the communities that we're writing about to read these articles and be like, 'Okay, they got it right.' But we don't want to be so insular that only those people are interested."