John Fahey, Chairman of the National Geographic Society, is the architect of the organization’s two-pronged brand strategy: the good works of the Society — the Magazine, Mission programs, the education programs, and more, all of which cost a lot of money — would be subsidized by the tabloid trash on the National Geographic Channel (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation). John’s assumption: The Quality would not get infected by The Sleaze.
Here at Society Matters, we’ve argued that John’s assumption was, and remains, fatally flawed. We believe that “you can’t promote wisdom with your right hand and champion ignorance with your left.” If you need more proof, here’s an incisive and eloquent letter of resignation from a longtime member of NGS:
1325 Waterford Drive
East Greenwich RI 02818
25 October 2013
Mr. Gary Knell
President and CEO
1145 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Knell,
I wanted to write and let you know that this edition will be the last in my subscription to National Geographic Magazine. My grandparents were subscribers, as were my parents, and I have been a subscriber for more than 20 years. Over the course of those years, I have loved the world that the magazine opened up before me through its stunning photos and well researched articles. I learned much about the history, beauty and fragility of our planet and all its peoples.
However, I can no longer support an organization that has strayed so far from its original mission. One of the main faces of the National Geographic brand is now the TV channel which perpetuates the worst kind of sensationalist shows. Programs like Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Castle and the new American Blackout encourage suspicion, fear, and violence. These are the anthesis [sic] of the original National Geographic values of encouraging knowledge, understanding, and illustrating our common humanity.
I urge you not to abandon the original vision and values of National Geographic and to rethink the current strategy. There is a great need for informative, researched, thoughtful programs about our natural world and the lives and hopes of people all around the globe. Please find it in your heart and conscious [sic] not to pander to the fears that divide us but the hopes and goals that unite us. Maybe then my children will be able to become subscribers too (digital ones of course).
Chris Perrett (Mrs.)
cc: Mr. John Fahey, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
National Geographic Magazine Letter to the Editor