Here We Go Again

National Geographic magazine laid off eight more staffers today.

Which should come as no surprise, at least if you’re a regular reader of this blog.

And while Gawker covered the news here, they got one critical piece wrong. They quoted someone at the Magazine (we think) saying the reason for the layoffs was “the economy.” What can we do? The economy is such a mess….

But that’s nonsense. Total, unadulterated blarf. “The economy” has very little to do with National Geographic‘s problems. Think about it: If the economy magically rebounded tomorrow — with full employment & zero deficits & tangerine trees & marmalade skies — print journalism would still be imploding. The problem isn’t “the economy, stupid,” it’s structural. And, in National Geographic‘s case, editorial as well.

The good news? As we’ve said before, National Geographic isn’t journalism as much as the official journal of a Society. Which means the journal’s titular head — the Editor-in-Chief — needs to have ideas, courage, creativity, and compassion. He or she must have the ability to stand up and lead — and to tell a compelling, inclusive, inspiring story about something other than, say, cheetahs. He or she needs to articulate a vision of a Society that people want to join.

What National Geographic desperately needs is someone at the microphone who actually has something to say. And unfortunately, the Magazine doesn’t. At least not right now. Which is why eight more creative, talented, hard-working, productive, and loyal Society staffers were laid off today by…


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