Only Four Days To Get Out

The last day at work for the eight NGM staffers who were laid off on Tuesday will be this coming Monday, November 2, 2009. Which means they’ve been given less than one week’s notice to clear out their offices and say their goodbyes.

That’s deeply disappointing, but not really surprising. After all, if you’d spent a substantial portion of your adult life chasing cheetahs, studying cheetahs, photographing cheetahs, and admiring cheetahs… well, those years in the wild can change a guy.

“There are certain things a cheetah story has to have.
One of the most important things it has to have…
is a kill sequence.

And you’re always looking for that picture.”

— Chris Johns, NGM’s Editor-in-Chief


ChrisJohns


  • A friend writes:

    “Eh – I think a week (or a few days) is pretty generous. At some places, they shut off your computer access, call security, and give you half an hour to get out of the building. (Happened to some friends of mine about six months ago.)”

    It’s true that “some places” will cut you off at the knees, and not blink twice. But NGS has long prided itself on not being “some place.” And for people who have worked at the Society for a very long time, four days notice — especially in this economy — seems harsh.

    Put another way: My friend’s point of comparison is a world of computer lockdowns & 30-minute warnings; whereas my benchmark is a Society where, during the Great Depression, everyone on staff took a pay cut so that no one had to be laid off. It was a professional community where people mattered more than cheetahs. You can argue that’s old fashioned and doesn’t reflect current management practices. But if Nature is your guide, and culling the herd with little warning is your SOP, then everything else can get real ugly real fast.

    Another friend writes:

    “Gil [Grosvenor] set the standard when he had Bill Garrett marched out:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/17/us/geographic-society-replaces-its-editor-in-unexpected-move.html

    Not a shining moment, I admit. But as I said … there’s 120+ years of precedent from which to draw, and I can’t help but admire what NGS did during the Depression. What better way to tell your staff that times may be tough, but “we’re all in this together.” Unless, of course, they’re not. And if not, then how can you manage with a straight face? (“Smithers, release the hounds.”)

    To which a third friend (an NGS staffer) responded:

    With respect to your comments “… What better way to tell your staff that times may be tough, but ‘we’re all in this together’…”: Well, we know where the current management falls and it certainly isn’t with us.”

  • A friend writes:

    “Eh – I think a week (or a few days) is pretty generous. At some places, they shut off your computer access, call security, and give you half an hour to get out of the building. (Happened to some friends of mine about six months ago.)”

    It’s true that “some places” will cut you off at the knees, and not blink twice. But NGS has long prided itself on not being “some place.” And for people who have worked at the Society for a very long time, four days notice — especially in this economy — seems harsh.

    Put another way: My friend’s point of comparison is a world of computer lockdowns & 30-minute warnings; whereas my benchmark is a Society where, during the Great Depression, everyone on staff took a pay cut so that no one had to be laid off. It was a professional community where people mattered more than cheetahs. You can argue that’s old fashioned and doesn’t reflect current management practices. But if Nature is your guide, and culling the herd with little warning is your SOP, then everything else can get real ugly real fast.

    Another friend writes:

    “Gil [Grosvenor] set the standard when he had Bill Garrett marched out:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/17/us/geographic-society-replaces-its-editor-in-unexpected-move.html

    Not a shining moment, I admit. But as I said … there’s 120+ years of precedent from which to draw, and I can’t help but admire what NGS did during the Depression. What better way to tell your staff that times may be tough, but “we’re all in this together.” Unless, of course, they’re not. And if not, then how can you manage with a straight face? (“Smithers, release the hounds.”)

    To which a third friend (an NGS staffer) responded:

    With respect to your comments “… What better way to tell your staff that times may be tough, but ‘we’re all in this together’…”: Well, we know where the current management falls and it certainly isn’t with us.”

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