Vox Boycotts SXSW Over Canceled ‘Gamergate’ Panels

Buzzfeed has also withdrawn from the festival unless anti-harassment panels are reinstated

Vox Media is following in Buzzfeed’s footsteps by threatening to boycott South By Southwest Interactive unless canceled gaming panels are reinstated.

After organizers pulled two scheduled panels addressing harassment within the gaming community, the media company issued a statement saying that it would not participate in the festival unless changes are made.

“By approving the panels in question, SXSW assumed responsibility for related controversies and security threats,” the statement read. “By canceling the panels, they have cut off an opportunity to discuss a real and urgent problem in media and technology today.”

“We have reached out to SXSW organizers and ask that they host a safe and open discussion of these issues, rather than avoid them,” the statement continued. “Vox Media will not be participating in this year’s festival unless its organizers take this issue seriously and take appropriate steps to correct it.”

The two panels, one called “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games” and the other featuring a panel of individuals associated with the Gamergate controversy, were canceled by the festival on Monday following threats of “on-site violence.”

Buzzfeed also announced on Tuesday that it would boycott the festival unless the panels were reinstated.

In a letter signed by Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, publisher Dao Nguyen, and motion pictures president Ze Frank, the company said it would not participate in SXSW unless the festival could “find a way to do what those other targets of harassment do every day — to carry on important conversations in the face of harassment.”

Read Vox Media’s full statement below:

Harassment is an issue Vox Media takes extremely seriously. As a digital media company, our journalists often face online harassment and find themselves on the receiving end of threats. We support our staff when they encounter this kind of abuse while continuing to do the work that can result in it, and want to continue an open dialogue about how best to do so.

By approving the panels in question, SXSW assumed responsibility for related controversies and security threats.  By canceling the panels, they have cut off an opportunity to discuss a real and urgent problem in media and technology today. We have reached out to SXSW organizers and ask that they host a safe and open discussion of these issues, rather than avoid them. Vox Media will not be participating in this year’s festival unless its organizers take this issue seriously and take appropriate steps to correct it.  We will work to find an alternative forum for this conversation and invite others who feel the same to join us.

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