Taken aback by use of generative AI art

To the Editor:
On Thursday, or perhaps on another occasion — maybe this happened to be the time that I noticed — this publication made use of generative AI art to accompany a piece. I was honestly taken aback.

Being a local source of information and entertainment, why not also local art? In the past there have been engrossing gorgeous illustrations by local artists such as Carol Coogan, excellent photography, and local historical images pulled from the Library of Congress.   

Why accompany thoughtful collected text with something that wasn’t as intentionally crafted? I, for one, would rather see the same file image of the local establishment referenced in the piece than AI generated art. It would be more relevant to the article and thought provoking.

If The Altamont Enterprise is utilizing AI art why stop there? How long until the article text is generated with AI? When that threshold is crossed will the readers be informed?

Sarah Brunt


Editor’s note: We used an image generator, Firefly, duly noted in the credit, to illustrate our March 7 editorial because Carol Coogan, whose work we greatly value, decided to take a hiatus. She was not replaced. We chose Firefly because it is a tool that uses only public domain images and images licensed by Adobe.

 The distinctions between opinion and news, and between abstract and realistic images are important. This was an illustration on our opinion page, created with prompts from the writer and page designer to visualize the ideas and opinions in the text.

It’s abstract, interpretive, and conceptual. For those three reasons, news photos and Library of Congress images aren’t always appropriate although we love to print public-domain images if we find the right one to illustrate our opinion pieces.

We won’t be using artificial intelligence to generate our news stories as they involve original research and reporting not largely covered elsewhere. We also won't be using it to edit, create, or manipulate any news photos. Using an image generator for clearly labeled abstract illustrations and visualizations is allowed in our policy, which will be included with this letter when it is published in our email newsletter.

Can using a tool like Firefly replace the creativity of Carol Coogan’s art? Absolutely not. But, it’s because we value her art that we’re holding the place open while still providing our readers with an image to illustrate our editorial. Illustrating editorials with custom local art, as we have done for decades, is rare and costly for a paper of our size, and we will continue to do so when possible.

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