Shutting off the media spigot

Remember our idea that National Geographic should celebrate Earth Day by shutting down the Society’s TV channel and its website once a year on that special day (April 22)?

By turning off its digital spigot for 24 hours, National Geographic would demonstrate to the world — in a public and powerful way — that our Society’s mission really is to inspire people to care about the planet rather than to inspire people to care about pictures of the planet. (As we’ve argued before, photographs can add to the media fog that prevents us from seeing the world — and each other — clearly.)

Obviously, National Geographic hasn’t embraced our idea. But we still think it’s a worthy one, especially after listening to William Powers talk to Katie Couric about the benefits of pulling the digital plug:

Watch the whole interview here. (The clip above begins at 20:35.)

William Powers’ book — Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age — can be purchased here.


  • Guest

    I have a hard time believing NGS really cares about this planet when they promote “Around the World by Private Jet” trips. What happened to reducing our carbon footprint and being environmentally conscious? NGS only cares about these issues when used as a media soundbite.

    • G – It’s a complicated set of relationships, isn’t it? I bet people who take the trip buy carbon offsets to cover themselves. 

      But your example does illustrate the problem of NGS trying to be all things to all people: lion pictures for the masses… and ’round the world trips on a private jet for the 1 percent. Can NGS sustain that dance? I’m not sure. But when the internet makes it so easy to compare & contrast — to determine if the Society’s right hand is working at cross-purposes with its left hand — well, it’s easy to get tripped up. 

      Thanks for your comment… and for stopping by.

  • Danbloom

    yes, and this idea is perfect following the SOPA brouhaha and how Wiki went off air for a full day…GREAT IDEA to promote awareness of the REAL planet, yes facing cliamte chaos in 400 years or less see my POLAR CITIES work at Nytimes dot earth blog or go to ”pcillu101” at blogpsot

    • Dan – I just checked out your blog, and your polar cities idea. And while I don’t know a lot of people heading to the poles just yet, I do have a good friend who has been talking a lot about moving north – from the mid-Atlantic area to up near the Canadian border — for exactly the reasons you cite. … Thanks for the link, Dan, and for stopping by.

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