[Updated] IGN Published a List of Ways To Help Palestinian Civilians. This Should Not Have Been Controversial.
As of midday Monday, at least 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during this most recent week-long series of Israeli bombings (part of a decade and a half-long occupation). At least 59 of those were children. Over 1200 people have been injured. Thousands have lost their homes and a building housing the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press was also destroyed.
On Friday of last week, the video game and entertainment website IGN posted a list of resources for people looking for ways to help Palestinian civilians.
“Palestinian civilians are currently suffering in great numbers in Jerusalem, Gaza, and West Bank, due to Israeli forces,” IGN’s staff wrote. “The NYTimes reported that most of the deaths so far have occurred in Gaza. We want to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Palestine because, while there has been fighting in the region for decades, recent escalations have seen a catastrophic loss of Palestinian lives.”
Soon after that article was published, IGN Israel posted a tweet condemning it and expressing their support for the Israeli Defense Forces who have been carrying out the attacks in Gaza. The tweet also called the post “misleading” and said they were working to have it removed.
“IGN Israel upset to learn IGN tries to raise money for Palestinian children harmed by Israeli bombs” is so cartoonesquely evil that I don’t even know what to say https://t.co/JY0tXJ2Tfq
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) May 15, 2021
At some point over the weekend, IGN did, in fact, remove the article, along with their tweet promoting it. And to be clear, when I say IGN, I am not referring to the editorial staff, who made the admirable decision to publish the article in the first place and presumably had no say whatsoever in its removal. It’s likely that the article was removed under the demand of IGN’s parent company Ziff Davis, although according to a report from Kotaku, that hasn’t been confirmed one way or the other.
Kotaku also notes that another games site, Game Informer, had their own list of charities offering aid to Palestinians removed over the weekend. And “as with IGN, there has been no public indication as to why this post was removed or if it will return.”
Late Sunday night, IGN posted a statement to Twitter stating that “our philanthropic instincts to help those in need was not in-line with our intent of trying to show support for all people impacted by tragic events.”
“By highlighting only one population, the post mistakenly left the impression that we were politically aligned with one side,” the statement continues. “That was not our intention and we sincerely regret the error.”
Yes, apparently the problem with the original article about how to support the victims of an ongoing ethnic cleansing was that it wasn’t both-sidesy enough. (By contrast, by the way, Israel has reported approximately 10 deaths in this most recent period of violence, including two children. Tragic, absolutely, but we can see the difference and why a both-sides approach isn’t exactly appropriate.)
IGN’s statement is written in the plural first-person “we” but again, it’s hard to believe this was a decision made by the site’s editorial team. This looks like pure censorship.
This is censorship. The real, powerful, harmful kind. Shame on IGN corporate for undermining the work of the editorial team by “both sides”ing genocide.
The next tweet is an archived version of the page — support one of the organisations listed if you can. https://t.co/bMPfS0xIH0
— Kate Gray (@hownottodraw) May 17, 2021
If you’re angry about this, please don’t direct it at the wrong people. https://t.co/3G9Zn7UneP
— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) May 17, 2021
Thank you to every member of the IGN and Game Informer teams that took the incredibly brave step of voicing their support for people that needed. Regardless of what happened, you did the right thing and you should be proud of that. You truly have made a difference.
— Tamoor Hussain (@tamoorh) May 16, 2021
Understand how important this is: clearly @IGN and @gameinformer editorial posted this under their editorial freedom. If these posts are gone, it very likely means their corporate owners stepped across the editorial barrier & forced the censorship of those humanitarian resources. pic.twitter.com/u51BTQ8hQz
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) May 16, 2021
as someone who used to work at IGN i can almost guarantee this happened against the will of the good people working there. you can have the most passionate, caring staff and it’ll mean nothing when there’s some cowardly exec somewhere getting scolded by the shitty parent company https://t.co/TPmyDjtnwx
— Lonnie (@veryfriendly) May 16, 2021
You can still see an archived version of IGN’s article here and read about the organizations they chose to highlight. As a note, the links to the orgs where you can donate all then also go to archived versions of those websites, so cut and paste the URLs into the browser bar, or you can click the links below, provided here to make things as easy as possible. Thank you to the IGN staff for the recommendations for all the ways to help.
Here are the organizations they listed:
—Palestine Children’s Relief Fund: www.pcrf.net
—United Nations Relief and Works Agency: www.unrwa.org/gaza-emergency
—Medical Aid for Palestinians: www.map.org.uk
—Doctors Without Borders: www.doctorswithoutborders.org
Update 5/18 9:30 am:
More than six dozen employees of IGN have published an open letter to their corporate leadership, expressing their distress at the gross overreach displayed by the censorship of the original article.
“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.”
It goes on to say:
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.
The employees also express anger that the statement released on the IGN Twitter account–which was emailed to them shortly before being posted publicly–gave the impression that it served as the official statement for the entire company, themselves included.
“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.”
Read the full letter here.
(image: SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)
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