IGN Staff Criticizes Management's Decision To Pull Article Supporting Palestinian Aid Groups

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Today, the IGN editorial staff published an open letter decrying Sunday’s removal of an IGN article and its associated tweet that linked to charities supporting Palestinian victims of recent Israeli violence.

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The article and tweet, posted on May 15 in response to violent military strikes against the people of Gaza by the Israel Defense Force, were taken down on May 16 without the IGN editorial staff’s permission or involvement.

IGN didn’t release a public statement about the removal until early the next morning, nearly 12 hours later. According to the eventual statement, the content was removed because it was “not in-line with our intent of trying to show support for all people impacted by tragic events,” and that, “by highlighting only one population, the post mistakenly left the impression that we were politically aligned with one side.”

Sources tell us IGN editorial staff was enraged over both the removal of its article showing solidarity with the Palestinian people and the subsequent statement from IGN corporate. Today, they published an open letter on Medium signed by more than 60 IGN staff members:

In the letter, IGN staff said they were “appalled” by management’s decision to “subvert our editorial autonomy and remove our post directing aid to the Palestinian civilians currently suffering a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.” The letter called management’s removal of the article “a clear instance of corporate overreach,” that, “demonstrated blatant disregard for the most basic standards of journalistic integrity and editorial independence.”

The letter continues:

...we feel the decision to remove the original article and social posts, as well as the subsequent statement from management, is not only actively harmful to IGN’s public reputation and its employees, but also highly disrespectful to much of its content team and broader staff. The statement inaccurately ascribes the retraction to those “across IGN” rather than to the members of our upper management team who made the decision, giving a public impression that the decision was made by the editorial staff, despite this being a choice we did not make collectively and which many of us do not agree with.

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Importantly, we feel the latest statement dangerously turns what was a matter of supporting innocent civilians facing a humanitarian crisis into a harmful case of “both sides”-ism. Helping children and civilians harmed by the horrors of war should be uncontroversial no matter who the two sides are, and is in keeping with IGN’s ongoing efforts to highlight causes that are important to our team — such as our support for Black Lives Matter last year and our more recent celebration of AAPI Heritage Month and joining the call to end AAPI hate. The victims here deserve the same support.

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The open letter concludes by calling for an all-hands meeting with IGN / J2 Global upper management,full transparency” about the sequence of events that lead to the takedown, and a commitment from management to reinstate the removed article and formally recognize IGN’s editorial dependence and autonomy.

Kotaku has contacted IGN inquiring about the letter and the circumstances surrounding the content takedowns.

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This message comes after a difficult weekend for IGN’s editorial staff. Sources told Kotaku that staff spent most of Sunday unaware exactly why the Palestinian charity post was removed—or if company higher-ups were even going to make an official statement on the matter. Today, tensions remain high. IGN staffers have responded by taking matters into their own hands, linking followers to Palestine-related charities and an archived version of IGN’s now-removed post.

Today, Waypoint reported on a “contentious” morning editorial meeting at which IGN executive vice president and COO Peer Schneider apparently said little, arguing that, “the issue was the charity article choosing a side in an ongoing ‘war.’” Schneider reportedly could not offer an answer when an employee inquired as to whether IGN parent company J2 Global was motivated to perform the takedown by investments it has in Israel.

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IGN is the biggest gaming news site in the world, so when it published an article directly supporting the people of Palestine, it was seen by many observers as a watershed moment in Western games media and Western media in general. Following IGN’s article, a number of smaller and larger outlets and creators shared similar stories and tweets in support of the Palestinian people.

Additional reporting by Nathan Grayson.

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DISCUSSION

By
Arden

Hey, Ethics in Games Journalism crowd: The corporate breach of editorial independence is kind of a big journalistic ethical issue. It’s maybe the sort of thing that a group which bills itself primarily upon its concern of Ethics in games journalism should be up in arms about.

I mean, I know it isn’t POC or women in your games, or small-sized anime tiddies which has always been your primary concern, but I’m just saying this might be something you’d want to care about.

(God, I don’t know why I even bother some days)