Could ChatGPT replace Comstock’s writers? (Shutterstock illustration)

Could ChatGPT replace Comstock’s magazine writers?

Plus: A recap from the Kings’ playoff game with the Golden State Warriors, an Ethiopian coffee shop in Arden Arcade, and more

By: Jennifer Fergesen

In her opening letter for Comstock’s May issue — hitting newsstands now — Publisher Winnie Comstock-Carlson posed a question designed to strike a blue note with those of us on the editorial team: Could ChatGPT replace Comstock’s writers?

The answer is no, for now. A test run with the AI-based text rendering engine, sent in an anonymous email, produced an article that Editor Judy Farah generously called “flowery” and another reader compared to “a festival of cliches” — nothing that would meet our rigorous standards for writing and reporting. See more highlights from the article, titled (in AP-flouting style): “Above the Fray: How Comstock’s Magazine is Delivering Straight-Forward Customer-Centered Business Information in a Divisive Political Climate,” in the letter.

The reality is that regional print magazines like Comstock’s, now in its 34th year, were already a legacy industry long before ChatGPT came around. But as new-media companies like Vice and Buzzfeed News head towards bankruptcy or shut down, we’re still around, offering something these so-called disruptors never could. Winnie calls it “a certain element of grace and grandeur.” I think it has something to do with the sense of community we offer, a difficult task for either a multinational corporation or a chatbot. All of Comstock’s staff, as well as our talented roster of freelance photographers and writers, are part of the Capital Region community and invested in its future. We’re grateful to be able to share its stories with you. 

Here’s the rest of the Capital Region Rundown: Editor Judy Farah reflects on the Kings’ playoff game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday; The Evil HR Lady helps another HR professional encourage employees to do their HR tasks — no cake required; an Arden Arcade coffee shop adds Ethiopian specialties to the menu; and from CalMatters, an update on an affordable housing bill battled by California’s construction unions.  

Recommendations from our editors:

Judy: The talented New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a thoughtful piece titled “Requiem for the Newsroom.” As a lifelong journalist who has worked in vibrant newsrooms in the New York area, Los Angeles and Sacramento, newsrooms were, and notice the past tense, a place where ideas thrived, young reporters learned from the veterans and lifelong friendships were made. They were filled with energy, synergy and fun, especially on election nights or during breaking news. With remote work now the norm, many journalists work from home. As veteran California editor Jim Boren put it: “Journalists who work from home will never reach their highest potential. You learn so much in a newsroom by bouncing ideas off colleagues, overhearing how others frame questions, and being mentored by veteran reporters.” Opinion | Requiem for the Newsroom – The New York Times (

Jennifer: I’m calling it: The song of the summer is the TikTok hit “Schreien!” by Paula Carolina, a pop single composed of random snippets of conversation overheard on the Berlin metro. At least, it’s the song of my sister’s summer, who’s doing an internship in the German capital after getting hooked on the city during her study abroad. I may get there myself this year (but probably won’t get into Berghain).  

Dakota: Before coming to work at Comstock’s, I decided to leave my previous job of six years and take some time off to travel before applying elsewhere. It was scary not having a steady income and leaping into the unknown, but it was also a good exercise in discovering how cheaply I could live. I created an Excel spreadsheet to calculate my projected income and spending, and I was able to see just how much I could save if I cut out a few bad habits. It was strangely empowering, as many of us are often secretive or ashamed about personal finances. The key is being completely honest with yourself. That’s the hardest part, but it’s also freeing once you know the numbers, and I’ll carry this lesson with me now that I have a steady income again. Within this lane of financial self-help, there’s a new show on Netflix called “How to Get Rich.” While the title is a bit click-baity, it’s a show that I think a lot of us can learn from. Personal finance guru Ramit Sethi teaches how to live your “rich life” by spending on the things you love and saving on the things you don’t, regardless of societal pressures. He also wrote a New York Times Best Seller, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.”

Odds and Ends

Don’t forget to subscribe to the magazine to stay up to date on the region’s business trends, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for daily stories and extras. 

Recommended For You

Could ChatGPT Replace Comstock’s Writers?

AI is a unique innovation that seems to be taking off like a rocket with plans to replace many otherwise human-developed work; but in the end, it could spell disaster to lots of today’s industries if we lose sight of the fact that it needs to work for us, not the other way around.

May 1, 2023 Winnie Comstock-Carlson

Get it in print

Support local journalism: Subscribe to Comstock’s and get our high-quality print magazine delivered directly to your door!