The decision of IGN parent companies J2 Global and Ziff Davis to remove an article voicing support for Palestine in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the video gaming news website has allegedly resulted in a storm of intracompany turmoil and chaos, all of which has led morale among IGN employees to hit “an all-time low.”
Following the removal of the article and subsequent publication of a statement claiming to apologize on behalf of the IGN staff for how “the post mistakenly left the impression that we were politically aligned with one side,” 82 of the site’s 238 employees signed an open letter expressing their outrage at “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.”
“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,” wrote the IGN employees. “The business interests of a publication’s ownership and its editorial staff should stay separate at all times.”
The signees then issued four requests to their corporate leadership. First was “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 [May 21st], in which we would like full transparency about the reasoning and process behind the post’s removal,”
Next, they wanted “the management body responsible for the decision accept that responsibility publicly.”
Thirdly, “that management recognize IGN’s editorial authority and autonomy with regards to what it publishes.”
And lastly, “that management work with our staff to re-publish the piece.”
While no public comments on the matter beyond the open letter have been made by either IGN, J2 Global, or Ziff Davis, a new report authored by Fanbyte Managing Editor Steven Strom suggests that the situation has only continued to worsen.
According to Strom, “multiple sources within IGN (who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal)” informed Fanbyte that though IGN Chief Content Officer and co-founder Peer Schneider initially “assured staff that corporate was listening [and that] the proper people had supposedly seen the complaints and were open to a discussion,” he had since “backtracked his earlier statements internally, suddenly placing all the blame for the original article’s removal — and the ensuing fallout — on himself.”
“If that were true,” Strom explained, “it would make the issue an entirely editorial matter, magically absolving J2 Global and Ziff Davis of the corporate interference of which they were accused.”
He added, “Our sources maintain this version of events was a very sudden change in narrative. One described it as Schneider falling on the sword. Up until that point, just a few days ago, the Chief Content Officer never named himself or any editor as the source of the original decision.”
Furthermore, the anonymous IGN employees claimed that “morale is at an all-time low” in light of a meeting with Ziff Davis president Steve Horowitz wherein “the executive described the issue as a purely IGN editorial problem, which IGN editorial (and by extension not its parent company) would clean up itself.”
“Horowitz further attempted to pit employees against each other by asserting several people who signed the open letter were coerced or tricked into doing so. Though he did not provide any evidence of that claim,” the employees allegedly informed Strom. “He did, however, point to the number of employees who did not sign the letter as proof that most of the company did not support it. Another possibility, of course, is that some avoided doing so out of further fear of retaliation.”
What do you make of the alleged ‘low morale’ of the IGN staff who collectively voiced their support for Palestine? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below.