IGN's Casamassina responds to conflict of interest claims

Video Game Media Watch has a rather incendiary post up tonight "revealing" that IGN Nintendo editor-in-chief Matt Casamassina and Golin Harris Vice President Edie Kissko are married. This might not seem like a big deal, until you consider that Golin Harris handles public relations for Nintendo (and Kissko works on the Nintendo account). This isn't precisely a "breaking" story ... the marriage has been well known in some corners of the industry for a while. Still, isn't this the kind of thing that Casamassina and/or IGN should disclose to readers who might be worried about such a seemingly obvious conflict of interest?

Casamassina doesn't think so. In an e-mail to Joystiq, he confirmed that he and Kissko have been married for several years, though he says he does "prefer to keep my wife and kids out of the public spotlight." Despite the marriage, Casamassina said that both he and Kissko know how to keep their home lives and work lives separate. "Nintendo and IGN / FOX have been aware of our relationship since we first started dating," he said. "We're professionals. Both of us have signed strict confidentiality agreements with our respective employers and, incidentally, we leave what happens on the job at our home's front door."

Furthermore, Casamassina argues that readers can judge for themselves whether his personal relationship affects his writing. "The original article makes the suggestion that my marriage to Edie violates the trust of IGN's dedicated readership, but I think my body of work speaks for itself," he said. "Over the years, I have remained one of Nintendo's biggest fans and harshest critics and have also developed hundreds of reliable of sources within the industry, none of them Edie." (Kissko and a Golin Harris representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We'll update you if and when they do.)

While readers can indeed decide for themselves whether or not Casamassina is overly nice or harsh to Nintendo in his work (or gets more insiderscoops than the average reporter), most had no reason to doubt his independence before now. Though his marriage to Kissko wasn't exactly a secret, it was far from well known to IGN's readers -- even some of us insiders at Joystiq were surprised by the revelation. As a general rule, if a situation could cause even the perception of impropriety, a journalist should disclose it.

Regardless, now that the information is "out there," so to speak, will it affect the way you read one of the industry's most visible Nintendo journalists? Let us know in the comments.