Burn readers were clearly intrigued. (So are we.) Here are four comments:
SIDNEY ATKINS says:
… The questions I would most like to ask Chris Johns about are not directly related to photography, please forgive me, but rather ones he might prefer not to talk about publicly in this forum, about the overall direction and balance of the magazine, and the political struggles over those things for the last 30 years or so… my impression is that the magazine was a bit more gritty and activist under the stewardships of first Bill Garrett and then later Bill Allen, both of whom were forced out by the board of directors. There seems to have often been a tension between hard-hitting social and environmental stories and more conservative backers (and possibly audience as well?). We have entered an era in which large segments of the political and industrial establishment have a vested interest in quashing science-based environmental policies and denying the mounting evidence of environmental deterioration across the planet. Some of these people are major advertisers in Nat Geo. So what I am really curious about is how as editor he balances the pressures that I know must be on him to “go easy” on certain topics, or avoid certain topics, or create a certain mix for the magazine that must try to maintain a mainstream agenda but must also be accurate, relevant, and aware.
While in general I am a big fan of Nat Geo, there is one thing in particular that has bothered me for decades. Many of the major advertisers are car companies, and their ads often show their cars displayed prominently in “adventurous” locations and situations… fragile environments where no responsible person would take a motor vehicle. Other ads by big energy or chemical companies are clearly “greenwash,” PR attempts to sanitize their impact on ecosystems. If one looks at the environmental stories in NG, and then looks at the ads, there is a very mixed message being sent out….
Sorry for the rant, but I am a former geography teacher! Many thanks again for the interview!
HARRY asks a question about the trade-offs of working from home vs. working on the road. He also wonders if Chris Johns will shoot more stories for the Magazine.
JEFF HLADUN remembers meeting NGM photo editor Kathy Moran. He also shares thoughts on David’s NGM story about the Wyeth family.
EVA wants David to ask Chris Johns: “What is the most frustrating / rewarding thing in being THE editor?”
GERHARD says to SIDNEY ATKINS: “I share your view completely. Your write-up is excellent and to the the point. Thumbs up.”
David looked over these comments and questions, and then posted his replies:
to HARRY: “working from home is both the best and worst of shooting environs…best because you are home…worst because you are home…” etc.
to EVA: “of course i asked Chris Johns these kinds of questions…my interview with him and his enlightening/informative and perhaps very provocative answers will be published here just as soon as is possible…” and so forth
to JEFF: “… Kathy and i have been friends for many years… we all are very very close all around….” etc.
What about those questions from SIDNEY ATKINS — which were enthusiastically seconded by GERHARD?
They’ve touched the National Geographic Society’s Third Rail, so don’t expect any “enlightening/informative and perhaps very provocative answers” anytime soon.
We don’t blame David, of course. His “interview” with Chris Johns isn’t really an interview at all. David will never ask Chris to answer Sidney’s (and Gerhard’s) questions — especially if David wants to continue shooting stories for National Geographic.
Needless to say, we’ll be delighted if David proves us wrong, but we’re not holding our breath. At the National Geographic Society, The Silence begins at the top.