Controversy has struck at the offices of IGN due to a decision allegedly made by IGN leadership to delete a Twitter post which urged support to Palestine in what is becoming ever-increasing tension in the area. Leadership was allegedly unhappy with the fact that the post urged support to only Palestine, and did not include other countries affected.
Then, on may 17th at just past 2am EST, the post was removed. In it’s place was a post encouraging support for all countries in the region along with an apology for including only Palestine.
This decision was allegedly not made by the IGN editorial employees, but rather by leadership of IGN and their parent companies, Ziff Davis and J2 Global. In response, IGN employees posted an open letter to management that has been signed by over 70 IGN employees including Executive Editor of Previews and Podcast Unlocked host Ryan McAffrey, host and Producer Brian Altano, and Designer Steven Bristow.
Staff at IGN noted that the repost was a “clear instance of corporate overreach and demonstrated blatant disregard for the most basic standards of journalistic integrity,” and that “the business interests of a publication’s ownership and its editorial staff should stay separate at all times.”
The Letter content is below:
“To the management of J2 Global and Ziff Davis, and the corporate leadership of IGN:
We, the undersigned employees of IGN, are appalled by the recent management 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.
In our original post, we offered our readers ways to support charities that help injured and sick children, supply educational resources and food assistance to victims, and provide emergency medical relief for those wounded or displaced by the conflict. We feel these efforts should not be controversial. All humans deserve access to these basic rights, and it is important for those with means to offer aid in times of humanitarian crisis.
Our original post was shared by thousands of people, and because of IGN’s size and reach, we were able to serve as a leader for much of the rest of the industry to also help support those whose lives are torn apart by this conflict. We were proud to be part of a team at a site that was able and willing to offer this level of visibility to such critical humanitarian support efforts.
This decision to take down the post was made a day and a half after it was published. The takedown took place in the early hours of the morning on a weekend with no communication to its initial authors, the general IGN staff, or to the public as to why it happened. IGN’s editorial team has guidelines about updating content deemed needful of changes, something that we’ve done multiple times in the past — but wholesale removal of pieces without posting an explanatory statement is expressly against our usual policy.
Finally, more than twelve hours after the issue was first flagged to the broader team in our internal Slack, our staff received a late-night email from IGN leadership (well after reasonable working hours for the IGN Global team) with the same statement that was to be published publicly on the IGN Twitter account an hour later. There was no indication in the initial email that it would also serve as our official statement on the matter.
While we are glad to see a sizeable donation being made to Save the Children, 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.
Following an IGN-wide meeting this morning, we have come to understand that this was a clear instance of corporate overreach and demonstrated blatant disregard for the most basic standards of journalistic integrity and editorial independence. The business interests of a publication’s ownership and its editorial staff should stay separate at all times.
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.
We recognize the concerns expressed by upper management, but are nonetheless gravely disappointed by the lack of respect shown to our content team and broader staff in this matter, and expect our leaders to take responsibility for their decisions.
We, the undersigned, are calling for an all-hands meeting that includes IGN upper management and anyone at J2 Global or Ziff Davis who had a hand in the decision, by the end of the week, in which we would like full transparency about the reasoning and process behind the post’s removal. We ask that the management body responsible for the decision accept that responsibility publicly. We ask that management recognize IGN’s editorial authority and autonomy with regards to what it publishes, regardless of whether that work is news, reviews, features, guides, video content, or promotion of initiatives our staff feels are important, such as issue awareness or charitable support. While we want to make sure all voices on our team — IGN management included — feel able to weigh in on what we say as a site and how we say it, we are adamant that corporate leadership does not get the final word in editorial decisions.
Finally, we ask that management work with our staff to re-publish the piece. We are open to doing this through a process that incorporates management feedback and concerns about how its content is perceived, but we firmly believe that we must be allowed to advocate for humanitarian causes freely across all our channels.
We are a team of creators who love what we do and take pride in our work, which has previously enjoyed the support of — and freedom of unnecessary interference from — our parent companies. We would like that relationship to continue to be a positive one. It is our hope that management recognizes its errors this past weekend and is willing to work with us to ensure that IGN can continue to stand as a trusted publication, unconstrained by interference from corporate interests, and able to freely inform its audience about opportunities to support important and meaningful causes around the world.
Bobby Amos Jr.
Chris Del Padre
Narelle Ho Sang
Signed after initial publication:
More on this story as it develops.
Screenshots taken from IGN’s Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/IGN