“Membership”? Did he just say “membership”?

john fahey
John Fahey

At the bottom of Tuesday’s Washington Post article about Gil Grosvenor’s retirement, we found this quote from John Fahey, NGS CEO & Chairman-in-Waiting:

“Digital media represents tremendous opportunities for National Geographic on a worldwide basis and, in many ways, will allow us to get back to our original membership roots,” Fahey said.

Membership? As in belonging to a “Society”? That’s intriguing, especially given what John told us in 2006. Back then, after yet another round of layoffs, we (okay, “I”) made an appointment with John to find out how he intended to stop the nosedive in membership (and Magazine revenues). One (paraphrased) excerpt from our meeting:

Q: Does the word “Society” have any value to you when you market National Geographic? Or is the word just a vestige from the old days that gets in the way?

John Fahey: It mostly gets in the way. Nobody wants to belong to anything….

Then again, when your print products are teetering, and cable TV has been declared an “anachronism,” “a living fossil,” and “doomed,” then it’s probably wise to look for a Plan B. Or, in our case, a Plan A — creating something of value for the people who built the National Geographic Society in the first place: its members.

But here’s the big challenge: What will persuade people to join up? (If all we offer folks is a generous discount on NGS retail products, well… we’re gonna cry.) What’s the mission? And who at NGS can or will deliver a long-awaited Call to Arms?

Please know we’re not asking for a catalog of products, or a list of programs, or a docket of research grants, or a gallery of wildlife photos. This isn’t a question about our merchandise. We’re not trying to build a better shopping mall. We’re trying to build a community. Which means we’re anxious to hear why John thinks people should join the National Geographic Society.

So, here’s an idea, John: Why not spell it all out in a speech? One stirring oration — to be delivered, say, at the January 2011 State of the Society assembly — that could be webcast to the world. One presentation to share “the vision thing.” One expansive word picture that would capture our imagination and inspire us all to think big. One heartfelt, hope-filled appeal for millions more people to “join the adventure.”

What do you think, John?
Is it worth trying?

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P.S. If you’re looking for some inspiration, then check out these four five gems:

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John rarely, if ever, gives interviews.
But we’re asking for one, and you can help by clicking “Recommend,” below.

Don’t have a Facebook account? Or prefer not to show your face? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

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End of an Era

Gil Grosvenor at helm

Gil Grosvenor in 1984.
“When he retires at the end of 2010,
it will conclude 122 consecutive years of stewardship
by his family over the National Geographic Society.”

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≡  photo by James Conaway, The Washington Post

Changing of the Guard

Gil Grosvenor announced his retirement today
as Chairman of the National Geographic Society.

John Fahey will become Chairman of the Board
and will continue as CEO.

Tim Kelly will become President of NGS.

These changes are effective January 1, 2011.

The NGS press release is here.

The Washington Post has this.


Curious how this change might affect our Society?
Wondering what might happen now that the Grosvenors are all gone?
(We’re looking especially at all you NGS staffers & alums out there.)
Well, we’re curious too. And an interview with John Fahey would certainly help.
If you think John should make himself available for an extended Q&A,
then please be sure to click the “Recommend” button, below.

Don’t have a Facebook account? Or prefer not to show your face? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

“Everything Deserves a Why”

LiveCurious EverythingWhy

Why
does the National Geographic Society
elevate & support a man who says things like this?

Zahi Hawass BW

Dr. Zahi Hawass

“It seems that the idea of killing children, old people, and women and ignoring taboos runs in the blood of the Palestinian Jews…. When we talk about their ideology, we do not mean their religion itself, to which they also do harm. They falsify it and put in it all their poisons, which are against all humanity.”   (source: drhawass.com)

“For 18 centuries, [the Jews] were dispersed throughout the world. They went to America and took control of its economy. They have a plan. Although they are few in number, they control the entire world.” (source: MEMRI)

Zahi Hawass, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, was recently appointed to be an adviser to National Geographic’s new Arabic edition.
(source: The Straits Times)

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Are you curious
why the National Geographic Society
elevates & supports a man who says such things?
So are we — but John Fahey, CEO of NGS,
declined our first request for an interview.

Would you endorse
our second request for an interview?
If so, please click the “Recommend” button, below.

(Thanks.)

Don’t have a Facebook account? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

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Rick Sanchez, Juan Williams… & Zahi Hawass

Something isn’t quite right here…

_

rick sanchez

Rick Sanchez

Pete Dominick (host): [Jon] Stewart’s a minority as much as you are. He’s Jewish.

Rick Sanchez: Yeah. Yeah. Very powerless people. Please. What are you, kidding?

Dominick: You’re telling me that….

Sanchez: I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they – the people in this country who are Jewish – are an oppressed minority? Yeah.   (source: The Guardian)

Rick Sanchez was recently fired by CNN.

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Juan Williams

Juan Williams

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“If I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”  (source: TIME)

Juan Williams was recently fired by NPR.

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Zahi Hawass BW

Dr. Zahi Hawass

“It seems that the idea of killing children, old people, and women and ignoring taboos runs in the blood of the Palestinian Jews…. When we talk about their ideology, we do not mean their religion itself, to which they also do harm. They falsify it and put in it all their poisons, which are against all humanity.
(source:
drhawass.com. As of post time, Dr. Hawass’s web site is either not working or has been taken down. We’ve saved a cached version of his blog post here. … UPDATE 22 October 2010, 11:50pm: The site drhawass.com is back up. The blog post is here; in case of more technical difficulties, we’ve posted a screen shot here.)

“For 18 centuries, [the Jews] were dispersed throughout the world. They went to America and took control of its economy. They have a plan. Although they are few in number, they control the entire world.”  (source: MEMRI)

Zahi Hawass, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, was recently appointed to be an adviser to National Geographic’s new Arabic edition.
(source: The Straits Times)

_____

Are you curious why the National Geographic Society
supports & elevates a man who says such things?
So are we — but John Fahey, CEO of NGS,
declined our first request for an interview.

Would you endorse
our second request for an interview?
If so, please click the “Recommend” button, below.

(Thanks.)

 

Don’t have a Facebook account? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

_____

UPDATE
23 October 2010, 12:10am

Tweet to ZahiHawass

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UPDATE
23 October 2010, 4:25pm

An email submitted via Dr. Hawass’s web site:

Subject: Rick Sanchez, Juan Williams & You

Dear Dr. Hawass,

My name is Alan Mairson, and I’m a former staff writer & editor at National Geographic magazine. I’m also the founder of Society Matters, an online project devoted to the National Geographic Society.

On Thursday, I posted an item titled “Rick Sanchez, Juan Williams… & Zahi Hawass.” You can see it here: http://ow.ly/2Y7Y9

This item has generated a huge spike in traffic at our site, and I want to be sure to continue to provide as much context & commentary as possible for our readers. If you have any thoughts or comments to share about your quotes, or if you would like to add any details, I would be delighted to post them at www.societymatters.org. Or you can visit the site & share your comments directly.

Thanks in advance for whatever feedback you can provide.

All the best,
Alan Mairson

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photo credits:
≡  Rick Sanchez via the Dallas Observer
≡  Juan Williams via MIT
≡  Zahi Hawass via touregypt.net

Burning up our (brand) equity

Does a documentary called “Ultimate Factories: Porsche” — which looks like a one-hour advertisement for a high-end automaker — suck the credibility out of Our Brand? Does it sacrifice the long-term health of NGS for a quick infusion of cash? Are programs like this a strategic error for our Society?

Evidently not. Here’s Tim Kelly, President of National Geographic Global Media:

“Our organization must evolve
to take advantage of myriad new opportunities.”

NGC and PorscheTwitter

The National Geographic Channel's web site, along with a promotion from Porsche via Twitter (inset).

“There appears to be an epidemic of brand erosion going on, with some of the best and brightest companies with years of doing things right stumbling and hurting themselves in eyes of their consumers. I think part of the reason is that companies forget their core competencies in the drive for growth…

What are the lessons here? You can grow too fast. You can get disconnected from your consumer base. You can forget your roots and DNA….”

— from “Toyota, Home Depot, Motorola, BP, Wal-Mart — Brand Erosion Hits The Biggest And Best Brands. What’s Going On?” by Bruce Nussbaum in Bloomberg Business Week

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Putting the fun back in non-profit funding

I’m not suggesting this fundraising appeal (below) by Alec Baldwin for public radio’s WNYC is necessarily a smart revenue tactic for the National Geographic Society.

But I am saying there are better ways to generate income for the Society — and far better ways to protect Our Brand — than selling an hour-long advertisement to Porsche and calling it a National Geographic documentary.

More of Alec Baldwin’s fundraising pitches for WNYC are here.

John Q. Griffin steps down as President of Publishing

Story from Minonline here.

Folio’s coverage here.

Tim Kelly’s internal memo to NGS staff here.

Objective Nonsense (part 15)

Has National Geographic been “without an agenda” for 120 years?
Editor Chris Johns says yes.
Terry Adamson, NGS Executive VP, suggests otherwise.
Let’s go to the video….

Stockpiling malt liquor for [secret plan here]

BigUps rmmdc Facebook1(Robert Michael Murray is National Geographic’s
Vice President for Social Media)

MMann friendusonFacebook1

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P.S. @rmmdc:
We can’t wait to see what #Stealth looks like in the light of day.

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