Search Results for: diggers

Dear John: Why is a “violent insurrectionist” the star of an upcoming show on the National Geographic Channel?

See update (below)

Meet James Yeager. According to a news report, he’s the star of an upcoming episode of Doomsday Preppers, which is now one of the most profitable shows on the National Geographic Channel:

This is the campaign run by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which is trying to persuade National Geographic to cancel the Doomsday Preppers episode featuring “violent insurrectionist” James Yeager:


This is David Lyle, CEO of the National Geographic Channel:

David Lyle

David Lyle

This is Rupert Murdoch:

Rupert Murdoch laughs

This is John Fahey, Chairman of the Board of the National Geographic Society:

John Fahey National Geographic

It’s worth remembering that John Fahey has the authority to unilaterally kill shows on the Channel if he considers them inappropriate for the National Geographic Society. At least that’s what John said last year to a national radio audience.

So, what do you think, John? Does this episode of Doomsday Preppers deserve to be cancelled? If so, when? If not, why not?


Update, 20 September 2013 @ 10pm

From the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:

UPDATE: On September 19, 2013, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence was sent the following statement by Chris Albert, a Senior Vice President for Communications and Talent Relations with National Geographic Channels:

“Doomsday Preppers documents many individuals from across the country with unique beliefs and practices as they prepare (legally) to protect themselves and their families from various disaster scenarios. Given recent events such as Hurricane Sandy and the flooding in Colorado, this program is also a valuable platform for presenting survival tips to our viewers, and we regret that any potential interview has clouded the important work this show does. With more than 600 hours in production at any given time, we give our producers the liberty to conduct hundreds of interviews for programming on our behalf, including for this series. [James Yeager] was approached by our production company for participation in the upcoming season of Doomsday Preppers. However, after being made aware of the interview and consulting with the producers, National Geographic Channel does not believe that he fits with the show or the network, and we do not plan to air his interview in the series.”

John Fahey & The Lurid-o-meter

If Alex Honnold plunges to his death this autumn
during his skyscraper stunt for National Geographic,
who will be held accountable?

Here’s John Fahey describing his “right to veto” programs slated to appear on the National Geographic Channel (which is majority owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation):

If a young man killing himself on live TV does not qualify as “lurid” in John Fahey’s mind, then what does?

Alex Honnold

≡ Audio clip from John Fahey’s interview with Bob Garfield
of On The Media, March 30, 2012. Listen to the whole thing here

Your turn, David Lyle

Reality TV is a poker game. It’s a contest between programming executives whose jobs depend on their competitive ability to draw a big audience in prime time by whatever means necessary.

One of the game’s biggest challenges: How to push community standards to the absolute limit by producing shows that are insulting, scandalous, titillating, and/or offensive, which attracts free media attention… and (executives hope) a big crowd.

David Lyle, CEO of the National Geographic Channel (NGC) and the former head of the Fox Reality Channel, is a master of the form. At NGC earlier this year, Mr. Lyle insulted thousands of faithful Christians with his reality series Meet The Hutterites. His show American Gypsies, which was marketed as a low-budget knock-off of The Godfather and The Sopranos, elicited threats of legal action by leaders of the Roma (“Gypsy”) community, who said the National Geographic series was “racist, slanderous, degrading, and possibly illegal.” Mr. Lyle is unapologetic — at least publicly — about what he’s been doing to National Geographic’s good name. And to his critics, who bemoan the tabloidization of the National Geographic Society, you can easily imagine Mr. Lyle (and his boss, Rupert Murdoch) saying: Go f**k yourselves.

Meanwhile, this high-stakes poker game continues, with Discovery most recently upping the ante: We see your Hutterites and your Gypsies… and we raise you with Amish Mafia:

Will National Geographic keep playing this degrading game? All indicators suggest that we will.

John Fahey National Geographic


National Geographic’s homegrown Mafia: “You come after my family, I’m coming after yours.”

TO: John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society
RE: This is appalling

In March, you told a national radio audience that the serious programming problems at the National Geographic Channel were being addressed by a new management team.

Last week, you told the staff at an all-hands meeting that the serious programming problems at the National Geographic Channel were being addressed by three new production hubs in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

But the problems aren’t getting fixed. In fact, they keep getting worse, with no problem worse than this one:

Dr. Ian Hancock has repeatedly asked you to stop broadcasting the National Geographic Channel’s reality series American Gypsies. For publicly criticizing the series as “racist, slanderous, and degrading,” Dr. Hancock is now being threatened, along with his family, with anonymous phone calls. The man behind the calls has evidently taken the Channel’s marketing of American Gypsiesthe whole Mafia-Godfather-Sopranos thing — all too seriously, warning Dr. Hancock in true Wise Guy-fashion: You come after my family, I’m coming after yours.

You laughed last week when you used the term “factual fiction.” But this situation isn’t funny. It’s absolutely appalling.

Question is: How are you going to fix this? And: How do you plan to guarantee the safety of Dr. Hancock, his wife, and their five children?

Ian Hancock to John Fahey Sept 26, 2012

Dear John: The Hutterites desperately need your help

An open letter to John Fahey,
Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society

Click image to enlarge;
please see live links at bottom of this post.

Update @ 4:20pm
A reply from John Fahey: 


Live links from image above:
»  “You can find all the documents here.”
»  “link to this letter:
»  “link to documents, correspondence, and more:
»  “… TV programs that even you have admitted are a serious problem.”
»  “… humiliation and cruelty.”

Jeff Collins, Confidence Man

Why do so many Hutterites at King Colony feel misled by Jeff Collins, the executive producer of Meet the Hutterites, a new series on the National Geographic Channel?

Because to persuade the Hutterites to participate in his so-called “documentary” — and to win their confidence — Jeff Collins took the good name of the National Geographic Society and performed some sleight-of-hand with The Brand:

{ Listen to the whole interview here. }

Compare Jeff Collins’ head fake (above) — in effect: the National Geographic Channel is like the Magazine on TV — with the following straight talk from John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society.

In this excerpt from an interview with On The Media‘s Bob Garfield, Mr. Fahey explains some critical differences between National Geographic, the iconic yellow-bordered magazine published by the Society — and the National Geographic Channel, which is majority owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp:

{ Listen to the whole interview here. }

The Hutterites would have been far better off hearing directly from John Fahey than from Jeff Collins.


P.S.: In his On The Media interview (above), John Fahey says the National Geographic Channel is now under new management. Here’s the Channel’s new Chief Executive Officer:

As the former head of the Fox Reality Channel, Mr. Lyle’s TV credits include: Battle of the Bods; My Bare Lady; Seducing Cindy; and Sex Decoy: Love Stings.

For more about David Lyle, see this, this, this, this, this, and this.


On The Media examines the National Geographic Channel’s “slew of pulp non-fiction shows”

Last month, the NatGeo channel unveiled “Diggers,” a show about treasure hunters with metal detectors that the Society for American Archaeology said glorifies looting. “Diggers” is only one of a slew of pulp non-fiction shows on the NatGeo Channel that would surprise anyone familiar with the more-then-century-old National Geographic Magazine. Bob speaks to SAA president Fred Limp, National Geographic Society CEO John Fahey, and NatGeo Channel CEO David Lyle.

HOSTED BY: Bob Garfield

On the Media is produced by WNYC, distributed by NPR, and heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.

Here’s the story:

Read the transcript here.

For more on David Lyle, please see:

UPDATE:  Bob Garfield was given very limited time (10 minutes, I’m told) to interview John Fahey, and therefore could only begin what should be an extended conversation about National Geographic’s partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. If you’d like to learn more about the impact of this deal, please consider clicking Like on the Dear John: Let’s Talk widget (in the right sidebar). Thanks.

The American Anthropological Association appeals to our Society to do the right thing

More on the controversy about Diggers, a new show on the National Geographic Channel (which is majority owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp):

[gview file=””]


Any thoughts, John?

John Fahey National Geographic

Update, 3:30pm: I just called the American Anthropological Association, and asked Joslyn Osten, Marketing & Communications Manager, if they’d heard anything in response from John Fahey or anyone else at National Geographic. Her answer: No.  (I told Ms. Osten that I know the feeling.)

Update, 9:30pm: The Archaeological Institute of America joins the chorus of critics:

[gview file=””]

So does the National Association of State Archaeologists:

[gview file=””]

And the Montana Historical Society:

[gview file=””]

And the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology (CNHA):

Dr. Karen Metheny, the President of the CNHA, writes:

For shame! … I wish to express in the strongest terms possible our opposition to your upcoming series, “Diggers,” and we urge you to cancel this program before it causes irreparable damage to our archaeological heritage. … Your decision to air the series is irresponsible, unethical, and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the heritage that you claim as your focus of interest. One would expect the National Geographic Society, one of our most important advocates for conservation, stewardship, research, and education, to understand that the value of archaeology is not monetary but lies in its ability to increase our understanding of the past, to teach us about past daily life. … Further, your choice in programming represents a complete failure with regard to your mission statement; by airing this program, National Geographic encourages individuals to profit from the looting of a heritage that belongs to us all…. Your thoughtless promotion of “Diggers” not only encourages relic hunters and unscrupulous individuals to exploit our collective past, but sends the message to your viewers that it is okay to dig up archaeological sites for profit. The loss and destruction of sites that will follow is unthinkable. We urge you to act responsibly and to cancel this program immediately. {my emphasis}


Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel, is wreaking havoc with our Society's good name.

On the possibilities of “open brands”

A few days ago, I posted about “open journalism” at The Guardian, and what it could mean for National Geographic.

Josh Stearns, Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press

Today, I’d like to share some thoughts about “open brands” via a Storify by Josh Stearns, who is the Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press. Until I saw Josh’s Storify (embedded, below), I was unaware of the term “open brand,” but I like it, partly because it captures what I’ve long believed should be a keystone to National Geographic’s future: Our Society’s infrastructure should serve as a catalyst for its members to create a real, not just a virtual, community. (See: “A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name”)

Or, in Josh’s words: open brands leverage “the best of online tools to connect people locally on the ground, face to face.”

Open brands are also a response to what’s now the conventional wisdom in marketing: companies can no longer unilaterally define their brand identity. In a networked world, everyone is part of the proverbial “conversation.” See, for example, the recent online uprising against Diggers, a new series on the National Geographic Channel (which is owned by News Corp). Professional archaeologists, who are appalled by what’s happening under the National Geographic banner, now have a powerful way to voice their displeasure, to organize, to petition, to call for change — and to shape the public’s perception of the National Geographic Society.

“Open.” That’s a good word for a free and democratic society. It could be a good word for our Society, too.

{Thanks to Claire Sale of Netsquared, whose link a few weeks ago led me to Josh’s Storify.}

Digging our Society into an even deeper hole

Science, the official (and highly respected) publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, picks up the controversy about Diggers, a new show on the National Geographic Channel.

Archaeologists are mounting a campaign against two new cable TV shows that they say encourage and glamorize looting of American archaeological sites.

On 20 March, Spike TV will premiere a new show called American Digger, while a show called Diggers on the National Geographic Channel made its debut 28 February. Both shows “promote and glorify the looting and destruction of archaeological sites,” Society for American Archaeology (SAA) President William F. Limp wrote in a message posted earlier this week to the SAA listserv.

… After viewing the first two episodes of Diggers, Iowa’s State archaeologist John Doershuk posted a review to the American Cultural Resources Association listserv, in which he lamented: “The most damaging thing, I think, about this show is that no effort was made to document where anything came from or discussion of associations—each discovered item was handled piece-meal.”

… The archaeological community is trying to make its views known. In addition to Facebook petitions, professional societies such as SAA have sent letters of condemnation to Spike TV and National Geographic. (Copies of the SAA letters are on its Web site.) Limp said Tuesday on the SAA listserv that Spike TV had not yet responded to its concerns. He wrote that National Geographic indicated that it would place a disclaimer into its show that affirms there are laws in place protecting archaeological and historic sites.

Despite the treasure-hunting theme of both shows, neither appears to be violating federal and state regulations against unlawful obtainment of antiquities. The on-air fortune seekers are not venturing into National Parks or other federal lands, but dig on private property. If property owners sign off, then it is legal–landowners can do whatever they choose with artifacts found on their land. That’s the argument Shana Tepper, spokesperson for Spike TV, made to ScienceInsider. “Our show is shot on private property,” she said. “They’re getting artifacts that are otherwise rotting in the ground.”

But archaeologists remain concerned. “These programs encourage looting,” University of Colorado, Boulder, archaeologist Steve Lekson wrote in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. National Geographic’s imprimatur also rankles some. “Its reputation as a credible scientific and educational institution” effectively “normalizes” the looting aspect of its show, says Washington State University archaeologist William Lipe. …

From the comments on the AAAS article:

Matthew Landt 
FYI: this post was copied from an archaeological forum  
“Nat Geo TV is a Fox station that purchased the rights to use the NGS name. Still, NGS has a “standards” board that reviews programs, and this one got by them – so they bear some responsibility. If you saw the show, the disclaimer that ran at the end was a result of the pressure that a number of us placed on Nat Geo (we asked that they pull the program). However, the disclaimer was disingenuous because the metal detecting at the Montana territorial prison (the show’s first segment) was, in fact, illegal – it’s Montana state property and they never had permission from the state to dig there. And the show was warned of this before it aired. The state of Montana’s Dept. of Corrections is now considering its options.”  

Read the whole thing here.


Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel, is wreaking havoc with our Society's good name.

John Fahey National Geographic

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