After a months-long battle between IGN editorial staff and management, an article about how to contribute to Palestinian aid groups that was previously removed has finally been re-published, albeit with some changes.
A long note attached to the top of the post on behalf of the IGN editorial team outlines some of the process behind why it was originally removed and how it has been restored. It also announces a revised policy on article corrections, updates, and removals, and says that “more formal processes” have been put in place to make sure editorial leadership is involved in the publishing and occasional revisions of stories about “sensitive topics.”
“An IGN employee council, with the advice of a third-party ombudsman, and leadership are in agreement that the post required adjustments to be more culturally conscientious of our staff’s and our audience’s potential reading,” reads part of the note. “We regret the error in publishing without those adjustments, and recognize that our processes failed us. We are also in agreement that instead of taking down the post we should have updated the post.”
IGN, one of the largest gaming and entertainment news sites in the world, originally published on May 14 during the then-latest wave of violence resulting from Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine. The article, which shared links to charities that interested readers could donate to, was followed by calls to action at other gaming sites including GameSpot, Game Informer (since deleted), and here at Kotaku.
On May 17, IGN posted a statement on Twitter, purportedly on behalf of everyone at the company, saying, “By highlighting only one population, the post mistakenly left the impression that we were politically aligned with one side. That was not our intention and we sincerely regret the error.”
According to Vice, this led to a meeting later that day in which “pissed” editorial employees confronted management about the article’s removal and issuing a statement on their behalf without, reportedly, consulting them about it.
The clear breach of editorial independence eventually led to members of IGN editorial publishing an open letter to Medium, signed by over 60 staff, criticizing management for its interference and calling for the Palestine fundraising post to be restored and for an all-hands meeting to discuss what had unfolded. Less than two weeks later, Peer Schneider, IGN chief content officer and the site’s co-founder, sent a memo to staff reportedly taking sole responsibility for taking down the post and and saying it was “an editorial team process failure for the post to go live in the first place.”
The newly published version of the article makes several changes, including the removal of the very first word from the original version, which was “Palestinian.” The beginning now reads, “Civilians are currently suffering in great numbers in Jerusalem, Gaza, and West Bank.” It also now cites 12 Israeli deaths in addition to 230 in Gaza. The headline of the post has been changed from “How to help Palestine’’ to “A Resolution and New IGN Policies,” though the URL still contains the original title.
It remains unclear why it was an “editorial team process failure” for the post to go up in the first place or why it took three months for it to be restored. IGN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Going forward, the company’s updated takedown policy states it will only remove posts in “very rare cases” and even then, all removed posts will be replaced with an editor’s note explaining that the content has been removed and providing a reason why when legally permissible to do so. The policy also reasserts IGN editorial’s autonomy, stating that content decisions “are made solely by our editorial team, and that our coverage remains uninfluenced by external sources or financial considerations.”