Question For a “Media Agnostic”

To: Chris Johns, Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic
Fr:  Your friends @ Society Matters

Re: Your interview with Advertising Age

adagechrisjohnsWhen discussing National Geographic’s plans for digital publishing, you recently said:

“Everyone here — writers, photographers, map makers, etc. — is media-agnostic. We want to reach people with great stories, period.”

We love great stories too, and we’ve always been big fans of your wildlife photography. But your “media agnosticism” is deeply puzzling.

You’re the Editor of a print magazine, which more than four million people still pay good money to receive. But once you move those great stories to the web—which presumably is okay for a media agnostic like you—people will pay nothing to read them.

National Geographic on paper is still a viable business; National Geographic on the web is not.

If you have a minute, we’d like to ask you one question:

As people continue to migrate from print to digital,
how does a media agnostic like you
plan to pay NGM
‘s staff and freelancers
to produce those great stories?

We’d welcome your thoughts in the comments section, below.


≡ photo via Advertising Age

What He Said: Michael Hyatt

“If you are in the publishing business,
and your CEO is not engaged in social media,
your company is toast.”

— Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers
(via Twitter)

MMI*: Dance Party

* Monday Morning Inspiration

The Arc of History


Editors-in-Chief of NGM (follow the arrows): Gil Grosvenor (1970-80); Bill Garrett (1980-1990); Bill Graves (1990-1994); Bill Allen (1995-2004); Chris Johns (2005-present)... who is now underneath (top down) John Fahey (CEO), Tim Kelly (President, Global Media), and John Griffin (President of Publishing)

The Vision Thing
(first in a series of blog posts about the future)
begins next week.

What He Said: Bob Garfield

“The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.”

From the upcoming book…

chaosscenariocover(The book, scheduled to ship on August 3, 2009,
is available for pre-order here.


The Missing Links

social-networkRead the National Geographic Society’s Twitter stream, and you quickly realize that virtually every link in every tweet drives you to the NGS web site. And a quick review of using a site link analyzer reveals more of the same—lots of internal links, but relatively few outbound ones.*

We know that advertisements must be served. But is this the best way to build an online community?

NGS ought to spend lots more time linking out to the wider web—or, in the Geographic vernacular, to “the world and all that is in it.” For as Jay Rosen says:

“When we link we are expressing the ethic of the web which is to connect people and knowledge. And the reason you link doesn’t have anything to do with copyright and property. It has to do with that’s how we make the web into a web of connections.”


* If you try this site link analyzer and reach a different conclusion than we did, please let us know.

≡ graphic via

What’s Wrong With This Picture?


LIFE magazine’s photo archive (via Google) goes back to the 1860s.

The New York Times offers an online archive that goes back to 1851.

The Washington Post‘s online archive goes back to 1877.

TIME magazine’s online archive begins in 1923.

But National Geographic (published since 1888) has an online archive that begins in 2005.



Our Running List of NGM Staffers on Twitter*

* Tweeting as staff members of NGM

(If I’ve missed any names above, please email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — or post the Twitter user name in the comments below.)

RIP: Kodachrome 1935-2009


Kodak Retires KODACHROME Film

≡  photo via

What He Said: Sang Kim

“Publishers have to realize that their biggest value is in their audience.
Yesterday, you were a magazine. Today, you’re a club.”

— Sang Kim, CEO of Ripple6

≡ via Chris Brogan’s blog

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.