Objective Nonsense (part 30)

Remember Chris Johns’ claim that National Geographic has “no agenda”? It was part of an Editor’s Note in which Chris insisted that in “a world of shrill voices and agendas, we at National Geographic are committed to an unbiased presentation of facts. … It’s what we’ve been doing for more than 120 years.”

In our ongoing rebuttal to Chris’s unsupportable claim, we give you: 

Read the whole thing here

“National Geographic has its good name attached to this garbage?”

I’ve had my differences with PZ Myers, who is one of the marquee bloggers at ScienceBlogs.

But I’ll give him this: He doesn’t mince his words.

Here’s his take on a recent public poll that asked voters which presidential candidate they thought would handle a UFO invasion best. The poll was conducted by National Geographic, which owns and operates ScienceBlogs… and which pays PZ Myers:

{ Read the whole thing here. }

Then again, maybe there’s a method to this apparent madness: National Geographic dreamed up the poll… paid for it… publicized it… reaped the rewards of that publicity… and then criticized it on web pages featuring ads for the new Toyota Prius  — and it all came out of one shop.

In other words: National Geographic has managed to monetize a conflict of its own creation. (See also: the ongoing controversy about Meet The Hutterites.)

This build the fire, feed the fire strategy is a staple at Fox News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the National Geographic Channel.

Which makes me think that Rupert Murdoch is a lot like fight promoter Don King, but with far more media clout — and a lot less hair.


Watch as National Geographic’s family-friendly brand continues its breathtaking implosion, while a powerful media magnate laughs all the way to the bank

Daddy, did you see those two ladies?
Why are they dressed up like puppies?
And why is one of the ladies on a doggie leash?


For details on how much money 
the National Geographic Channel is generating
by slapping our Society’s good name on its tabloid fare, 

please see Our Society, by the numbers.

Why people hate the media…

… and how that’s affecting the National Geographic Society.

≡   The “winners have parties, losers have meetings” quote from David Lyle can be found here.
≡   The tweet from Jeff Collins is here.
≡   The Associated Press (via NPR) story is here

National Geographic’s ‘Meet the Hutterites’: A Discussion on CBC’s Radio One

Thanks to producer Sean Prpick, host Mike Finnerty, and the whole team
at CBC’s The Current for inviting me to join this morning’s discussion
about the controversy surrounding Meet the Hutterites,
a new series on the National Geographic Channel.

12 reasons Chris Johns should cancel National Geographic’s Mt. Everest climb

To: Chris Johns, Editor of National Geographic
Re: Why you should bring the NG Everest team home now

1. Four people have already died this week on Mt. Everest. There’s no point in adding to the death toll.

2. Especially dangerous conditions on Everest this year prompted Himalayan Experience, a highly respected guiding company, to pull all its climbers, guides, and sherpas off the mountain earlier this month. They get it. Why don’t you?

3. The thin mountain air seems to be giving team member and NGM writer Mark Jenkins some cognitive problems. In yesterday’s dispatch, Mark looks at the human death toll so far, and concludes that “the mountain always decides.” It’s as if Mark believes the fate of the National Geographic team — whether they live or die — is largely out of his hands (or yours). Which is silly, of course. It’s like someone “walking on railroad tracks through a dark mountain [with] trains [that] come roaring down the tracks at random times…” and then concluding: “But there’s nothing you can do. So you just keep walking….because the trains always decide. … If a friend of yours wandered the tracks at night and started blubbering this way, you wouldn’t underwrite and thereby enable his illness; instead, you’d get him professional help… wouldn’t you?

4. National Geographic may not grasp who is ultimately responsible here, but Outside magazine does:

Worth repeating: “… with only human error to blame”

5. There’s nothing noble about this expedition, or about mountaineering, as Mark Jenkins admitted weeks ago.

6. The “brotherhood of the rope” is a painfully thin thread upon which to hang this story.

7. One of the main rationales for the trip — to retrace the path of National Geographic’s 1963 expedition up the West Ridge of Mt. Everest — is no longer valid: Conrad Anker already canceled that leg of the climb.

8. Another rationale — the Mayo Clinic altitude study — is history: the scientists from Mayo have already gone home.

9. No iPad app — and no publishing business model — is worth the human risks you’re running with this media stunt. Because offering human sacrifices on mountaintops is a primitive ancient rite, not a modern one — isn’t it?

10. By romanticizing these sorts of trips, you’re encouraging them. There’s no way for you to sit back and say: We’re just neutral observers here. You, Chris, are The Enabler.

11. Your photo coverage of the expedition makes it look as though the climbers from National Geographic are alone on the mountain:

But we all know what’s really going on
thanks to Outside magazine:

Long lines up Everest

12. History has taught us that big crowds trying to scramble up Mt. Everest are a recipe for disaster. Please see:


Please stop this insanity, Chris.
Bring the National Geographic team home now.


Chris Liedel, NGS CFO, has a new job

More details here

Uh oh.

 via The Washington Post

On Our Radar: Headquarters makeover… Rupert Murdoch… a bloodied photographer… & more

• The architects at Weiss/Manfredi have just been selected to transform the urban campus of the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. A few details (not many) at ArchDaily.

• National Geographic’s Image Collection group will begin to inventory and reclaim pieces from the Society’s art collection in the coming weeks. Details in this memo via NG Connect (the Society’s intranet).

Ashi Fachler beaten up

Photographer Ashi Fachler (via Pixiq)

• Ashi Fachler, who runs the Flickr group Photography Is Not a Crime, was brutally attacked after snapping a couple of photos on the set of a Discovery Channel film last month. (Think that’s tragic? Of course it is. But once you get beyond those knee-jerk emotions, you’ll be ready to think more like a marketing pro. Here’s a scholarly paper from a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business about how negative publicity for a product can increase sales.)

• An online campaign calling on Congress to investigate Rupert Murdoch and News Corp is gathering steam over at Free Press. (News Corp is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel.)


• According to The GuardianNews Corp faces renewed threat of prosecution in the United States; investigation of alleged bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is the greatest danger to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. 

The Center Will Not Hold (part 7)

When someone eventually writes a sequel to Bob Poole’s (highly recommended) history of the National Geographic Society, this moment will no doubt be a centerpiece:

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.