John Fahey’s End-of-Year Missive

John Fahey

John Fahey

Just when we thought “The Magazine” was making a comeback in the hearts and minds of National Geographic executives, CEO John Fahey suggests otherwise. In his end-of-year email to the staff (below), John mentions The Magazine a grand total of zero times.

That’s “zero” as in: The official journal of the National Geographic Society is not worth mentioning. Zero as in: NGM Editor Chris Johns hasn’t done anything in 2009 worth highlighting. Zero as in: You magazine guys are toast.

Not that we here at Society Matters are hung up on The Magazine as a magazine. We don’t really care whether the Society’s messages are disseminated on paper, digitally, with skywriting, or via Balloon-o-Gram. But we do care that someone at NGS has a message — a creative, sustainable, inspiring message that will help strengthen our Society “going forward.”

Does John Fahey? You be the judge. Here’s his memo to the NGS staff:

As the year winds down, I want to pause for a moment to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication during this especially challenging period. I don’t think I need to review all of the factors that impacted 2009. All of us understand the pressures of both the recession and the changing media environment. We have had to make some tough and painful decisions and learn to manage our activities in new ways with new focus.

As hard as some of that has been to live through, I am heartened by where the Society is today. We accomplished a great deal during the past 12 months. Our explorers and grantees continue to do important and interesting work through our Mission Programs, and the opening of the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit here in Washington created unprecedented excitement on our campus. Our colleagues in Global Media continue to produce award-winning, compelling and popular content for media platforms of every type while exploring ways to advance the NG brand into new formats and opportunities. Our Channels are very healthy, growing in both audience and revenues. The Enterprises group has had a remarkably good year, in spite of the economy. And School Publishing is poised to rebound.

As a result, I believe that our organization is well-positioned going forward, and I’m especially enthusiastic about the work of the Future Directions groups and what their input will contribute to our long term health and success. As you know, a handful of you volunteered to devote significant time and energy to pondering key areas of concern to the Society, which were identified in a staff survey last fall. These included technology, membership, organizational culture, staff and management development as well as communications. Senior management has heard their initial reports, and we are incredibly impressed by the insight and usefulness of the recommendations. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be further digesting their materials, which will form the basis of further strategy discussions in early January. I’ll report on our progress when we get together for our first staff update at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 21.

I’m sure that 2010 will bring us plenty of challenges, but I also believe that the year will be exciting, interesting and loaded with opportunity. So get some well-deserved rest over the holidays, enjoy your time with your family and friends, and we’ll see you in January.

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