NG Channel Makeover, Executive Edition

Howard Owens

Steve Schiffman is “exiting” as president of the National Geographic Channel (U.S.). His replacement is Howard Owens, a founding managing director of Reveille Productions, which is behind such shows as NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” (Reveille is owned by Shine, which is owned by News Corp, which owns the National Geographic Channel.)

The Channel also named Courteney Monroe, formerly of HBO, to its newly created post of Chief Marketing Officer.

Chris Albert is now a senior VP of communications worldwide and talent relations; he replaces Russell Howard.

For more details on this executive makeover, see The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post.

≡  photo of Howard Owens via Variety 

What happened to Terry Garcia?

Terry Garcia is Executive Vice President for Mission Programs
at the National Geographic Society.

We’re still trying to make sense
of this very odd sequence of events:


Why did Terry drop out?

We just called him to find out, but he’s “in a meeting.”
If he returns our call, we’ll be sure to let you know.

For details, please see:
≡  May 13, 2011
≡  June 21, 2011
≡  September 28, 2011
≡  October 20, 2011

“Self-censorship and castration” in China

Han Han is a 29-year-old Chinese professional race-car driver, author, and cultural critic. He’s also China’s — and perhaps the world’s — most popular blogger. In a recent essay (translated by the China Media Project), he discusses his personal experiences with censorship in China, which he compares to castration:

Han Han

I haven’t written anything since [my July post] “Nation Derailed.” In point of fact, I’m not very diligent about my writing, and each time I do finish writing something and then can’t see it [after I post it, because it has been censored], I get despondent. And there are just so many government departments [to get past]. …

I’ve been involved in this work [of writing] for around 13 years now, and I now understand just how powerless and of no account cultural workers (文化工作者) really are. Owing to a richness of restrictions, people in this line of work are unable to produce anything truly special. 

And so up to this very day, everyone and anyone involved in culture is engaged in a painful process of self-censorship. So can we look forward to publishing houses lowering their taste a bit. This is of course impossible. As soon as a publishing house shows any sign of notching down its taste — remembering that these are state-run units — the authorities will just send over a new publishing chief. The nasty thing about post-facto censorship is how it exacts penalties. It says, look, I’m not going to look over your shoulder, but if you publish something improper I’ll have your head for it. If it’s something less serious I’ll fire you from your post or disband the publishing house; if it’s serious I’ll lock you up. So, you decide how you want to do it.

As for myself, while every single essay I write goes through a process of self-censorship and castration, sometimes unavoidably the fashion of my castration is still insufficient to past muster. This has to do with the level of sensitivity at various publishing houses. For example, my most recent novel has been killed outright, because the protagonist in the novel is surnamed Hu [like China’s president]. So even though I have only written 5,000 characters so far, the publisher assumes there must be political allegory somewhere. By the time I realized I had to avoid this name and changed the character’s surname it was too late.

I don’t know how a country where a writer trembles when he takes up his pen can build itself into a cultural great nation (文化强国)….

Read the full excerpt here.

For National Geographic’s response to such “self-censorship and castration,” see this.
And this:

Chris Johns & Terry Adamson celebrate NGM's new publishing partnership in the People's Republic of China. (2007)


The Planet vs. Pictures of The Planet

Why do people seem to be awestruck in this video?
Are they amazed by the animals depicted? Or by the depiction of the animals?

Are they mesmerized by The Planet? Or by The Technology?
(It’s easy to forget that they’re not the same thing.)

“It’s good!”

Yes, we know — this clip is from 2006.
But when we first saw it yesterday, it was news to us — and it’s a classic.

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