Disclaimer: the founder of Kakuchopurei, Kenn Leandre, used to work as an editor for IGN Asia Pacific.
IGN, one of the world’s biggest video game news websites, was under fire as of late. The site’s parent company J2 Global allegedly removed an article on the site called “How to Help Palestinian Civilians”, which was a way for the site’s readers to provide humanitarian aid.
The removal was done without editorial input and authorization. This was seen as a corporation overstepping its editorial boundaries and curtailing a publication’s independence. After all, a news website is only as good as its word, editorial independence, and credibility, because if a parent company were to keep doing this sort of thing, IGN might as well be a site that just releases nothing but press releases and fluff, right?
Two days after the incident, a dozen IGN staffers signed a public statement (via Medium) to express their disapproval of this curb-stomping of its editorial independence. Having parent companies dictate their editorial news outright and just removing content as they see fit is basically a really big “dick move”. IGN Chief Content Officer and site co-founder Peer Schneider assured IGN staff that corporate was listening and were open to discussion. He told the editors that they would be included in these conversations to change things.
That didn’t happen, unfortunately. A Fanbyte news piece stated that Schneider backtracked his promise internally, placing all the blame for the article’s removal and the fallout on himself. Doing this and making this an editorial matter absolves J2 Global and Ziff Davis of the corporate interference they were accused of. In other words, the corporate overlords may not be held accountable; pretty convenient when you think about it.
To quote Peer Schneider in a Vice article:
“While our post impacts everyone at our company, this is a clear editorial process and department issue and to imply otherwise is incorrect and distracts from our goal. We own the power and ability to resolve this.”
As expected, morale in IGN is “at an all-time low”, with unnamed sources saying that it was Schneider “falling on the sword” and the whole narrative changing abruptly. A recent all-hands meeting stated that the issue is now a purely IGN editorial problem that the team has to clean up itself. Ziff Davis president Steve Horowitz was also said to have pitted employees against each other by stating that those who signed the public statement were tricked into doing so. To quote a source from the aforementioned pieces:
“Ziff Davis and J2 leadership has tried to absolve themselves from having any part of it, despite stepping into the situation. We’re reiterating this is about our editorial independence, as it always has been, and the continued lack of transparency around what happened with a sensitive story.
Worse, the story keeps changing and I don’t know what to believe.”
Given that E3 2021 digital edition is happening in a few weeks, it’s going to be a helluva time for IGN editorial.