In the press release posted at Cengage’s site, John Fahey, Chairman and CEO of National Geographic, said:
“Cengage Learning has been an extraordinary partner to date, and we are delighted to expand our relationship, making Cengage our premier partner in education.” said John Fahey…. “Cengage Learning’s scale, educational publishing expertise, and existing relationships within the international and domestic markets, particularly in the higher education space, enables us to expand the reach and impact of the Society’s mission to inspire people to care about our planet. The first step in serving that mission is education, and we know the power of compelling images and interesting stories to educate even as they engage learners at every level.”
1. If this deal is such good news for National Geographic, why isn’t it mentioned anywhere on the National Geographic web site? Or in the National Geographic online press room? Or via any of our Society’s many media channels? Given your apparent enthusiasm, this virtual silence seems strange.
2. Do you plan to unload other NGS divisions? That is: Will you apply your Cengage-like logic to, say, the National Geographic Book Division? For instance, consider Bertelsmann, owner of Random House, which is comprised of nearly 20 imprints, including Doubleday and Alfred A. Knopf. Doesn’t a massive company like Bertelsmann have the “scale, publishing expertise, and existing relationships within the international and domestic markets” that dwarf our own? Wouldn’t Bertelsmann put the Yellow Rectangle in front of more people? By selling the division, you’d get greater brand exposure AND you could shed the division’s entire staff, along with their salaries, vacation pay, and health benefits. More mission for less money — isn’t that a win-win for you?
3. Unloading our School Publishing Division will probably look good on this year’s balance sheet, but why do you seem to have such a short planning horizon? Why act as though you’re beholden to stockholders? After all, the National Geographic Society has no stockholders. No private investors. No union. No functioning membership organization. What happens to NGS isn’t driven by Wall Street. Or Big Labor. Or anyone else. What’s happening to our Society is being driven by you.
4. How do you intend to protect our Society’s Brand when you keep selling it to businesses that have no long-term stake in protecting or sustaining it? See: News Corp. They ran Myspace into the ground, and are already pistol whipping our Brand, too, for fun & profit. (We assume you don’t stop Mr. Murdoch because you don’t have the authority, or you like what he’s doing to us. Or both.)
5. When can we stop by for the get-together you suggested back in 2009? Our questions keep piling up.