One of the most mind-bending facts of our information culture is that almost every major medium of information supports itself by advertising.
Radio? Advertisers. Magazines? Advertisers. Television? Advertisers. Google? Advertisers. Facebook? Advertisers. Twitter? Advertisers. Perhaps the only major exceptions to this rule are books, which are supported by sales, and Wikipedia, which is supported largely through donations.
— from “Information Is Free but Only Because Advertisers Pay,” by Ezra Klein, Bloomberg View, January 4, 2012 (emphasis added)
Another prominent exception: National Geographic magazine. Advertising once represented only 10 percent of the Magazine’s annual revenue; now that number is closer to 30 percent (if not more).
Which makes us wonder: Why has our Society rolled this one-of-a-kind publication in with all the other ad-driven media at NGS? Why take what’s been a unique relationship with the Society’s members, and turn it into the same old business that everyone else is trying desperately to sustain (ad dollars for viewer eyeballs)?
Why have we voluntarily sacrificed the relationship with members that’s long made the Society special?