The Mystery of the Annual Report: Solved!

A few days ago, we posted what appeared to be the National Geographic Society’s 2010 annual report.

When we first discovered it online, we couldn’t tell if it was the real deal. It looked authentic. It had the right NGS vibe. And with all those butterfly and polar bear shots, it clearly reflected a deep devotion to The Planet.

But something seemed… off. For instance, a photograph of Gil Grosvenor, the former NGS Chairman of the Board, was ID’d as John Fahey, the new Chairman (and CEO). Was it an error? Or a clever way to say that John is the new Gil? The mystery deepened….

Well, a few Google searches later, we discovered this “annual report” is actually the creation of Elizabeth McClain, a communications design & photography student at Syracuse University. A rising senior, Elizabeth created this publication for a class assignment, but you get the feeling she would have been happy to produce this without any prodding from her teacher. On every page, Elizabeth’s creativity and talent shine through.

There are many gifted people out there — amateurs whose digital tools are now no different than those used by professionals. Which means the pro-am divide is often less about a differential in talent, vision, and passion, and more about who gets a paycheck and health insurance.

Usually, when an amateur like Ms. McClain jumps out of the crowd this way, we say: The center will not hold.

Today, though, the voice of Rex Barney is echoing in our ears: Give that fan a contract!

See Elizabeth McClain’s project, in all its hi-def glory, here.

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