“You won’t be missed.”

Why is the National Geographic Society’s (new-ish) mission
to inspire people to care about the planet
if the planet doesn’t give a whit about us?

_____

Mother Gaia

Mother Gaia, by *Humon

_____

Our rebuttal:

Will National Geographic let PZ Myers keep this up?

Another peek inside the mind of PZ Myers,
who is the marquee blogger at ScienceBlogs,
now a National Geographic property.

_____

Dear John,
Your thoughts?

Battle of the Brands

Tacroy, in our comments, makes this critical point:

If after acquiring ScienceBlogs NatGeo decides to begin exerting more editorial control over blog content than P.Z. likes, he will leave ScienceBlogs. Pharyngula was an independent blog initially, and there’s no particular reason why it couldn’t be one again. This is not without precedent; there was a rather large migration of ScienceBloggers after the Pepsi incident.

With a similar thought, here’s Glaucidium:

If Nat Geo decides to institute “civility standards”, they will lose other SB bloggers, over both their own freedom to post and in support of free Internet speech in general. All this will mean is that their blogs will continue to appear in other formats.

And Psychodiva:

if PZ were to leave Sciblogs then his followers will – well- follow him- and all the traffic he creates will go with him….

And Dolly Dagger:

If PZ leaves Science Blogs, SB will lose a great deal of traffic. Pharyngula [PZ Myers’ site at ScienceBlogs] is my 2nd stop of my personal day — I go on to other SBs from there.  I suspect I’m not the only one. Science Blogs will go down the crapper without PZ because many other Bloggers will follow as well.

What’s fascinating about this case — and why we continue to write about it — is it highlights what we’ve long feared: The executive team at National Geographic doesn’t understand — in its bones — that publishing’s center of gravity has shifted. That people like PZ Myers now have a voice, a platform, and an audience. And that people like Myers no longer need a branded microphone (like National Geographic) to be heard around the world. All they need is a laptop, a URL, and a distinctive, compelling voice.

PZ Myers

Does National Geographic (and its advertisers) need PZ Myers and the ScienceBlogs audience? Evidently so.

But does PZ Myers need National Geographic? Not so much.

In this case, PZ Myers is the brand that matters. Which, when you think about it, is breathtaking: One guy with a blog can potentially tell National Geographic — a highly regarded media brand with global reach — to, as PZ might say, “bugger off.”

Given these facts, we see three possible outcomes:

  1. Myers reluctantly agrees to tone down his rhetoric to suit the suits at NGS. But that would be serial brand suicide: Myers’ readers would abandon both him and ScienceBlogs, leaving NGS (and its advertisers) with a severely degraded blogging network, and Myers with a reputation as a sell-out.
  2. Myers insists on being himself, and refuses to talk pretty. He leaves ScienceBlogs, taking his readers, and perhaps other SB bloggers, with him. Which would leave NGS and its advertisers with a severely degraded blogging network, and a reputation as a media company that doesn’t get the internet.
  3. Myers is permitted to be himself (religious people are “idiotsandbatshit insane“; a journalist who PZ disagrees with has a stick up his ass“; and so on). But National Geographic keeps its logo & brand name buried in a dark, distant corner of the ScienceBlogs site.

Our bet? Door #3.

That way, National Geographic can still reap the ad revenue from PZ’s blog, but not have the NG brand tarnished by PZ’s profanity — or his worldview.

This strategy might have worked brilliantly 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago. But today? Much tougher, we think.

For as Weinergate reminds us all: There are no secrets on the internet.

Stay tuned…


USA Today picks up the story….

… Ellen Stanley, a spokeswoman for NGS, tells me ScienceBlogs is not a branded site and all editorial decisions are still “in process.” David Braun, editor in chief for National Geographic News, is working on “guidelines for all the blogs on the site, not only ScienceBlogs,” she says.

Retraction Watch got the talk going with its coverage of the new partnership and a conference call between NGS and ScienceBlog [sic] management and bloggers in which David Braun, editor in chief, says:

I don’t want to sit here and comment on a case-by-case basis but I do want to work with you to work this out. We do stand for freedom of expression. We want to aim for a higher level of debate that is respectful and doesn’t offend in an unjustifiable way.

Stanley emailed me later to clarify my original post, which said Myers would be under the NGS banner.

ScienceBlogs.com is not currently under the National Geographic banner or part of the Nationalgeographic.com site.

So the operative word here evidently is “currently,” as things are, as she said and I reported earlier “in process.” I guess this means NGS readers won’t accidently stumble on Myers, but it still doesn’t clarify whether the ScienceBlogs umbrella — which covers Myers and others — will be branded with an NGS logo. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing here.

Is it okay for a National Geographic blogger to call religious people “batshit insane”?

A special welcome to all new visitors arriving from USA Today.
Like you, we’re curious about PZ Myers’ arrangement with National Geographic, but John Fahey, NG’s CEO, won’t answer our questions.
He refuses to give us — and virtually every other journalist — an interview.
But you can help.
If you believe the National Geographic Society — a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — should encourage civil discourse about religion and be more transparent about its publicly subsidized operations, then please help us crowdsource our interview request by clicking Recommend, below. (Or: Click the Like button in the Dear John: Let’s Talk widget, at right). We’re anxious to bring up the PZ Myers issue (and many other concerns) with John ASAP.
Thank you.

PZ Myers: A new voice for National Geographic

A special welcome to all new visitors arriving from USA Today.
Like you, we’re curious about PZ Myers’ arrangement with National Geographic, but John Fahey, NG’s CEO, won’t answer our questions.
He refuses to give us — and virtually every other journalist — an interview.
But you can help.
If you believe the National Geographic Society — a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — should encourage civil discourse about religion and be more transparent about its publicly subsidized operations, then please help us crowdsource our interview request by clicking Recommend, below. (Or: Click the Like button in the Dear John: Let’s Talk widget, at right). We’re anxious to bring up the PZ Myers issue (and many other concerns) with John ASAP.
Thank you.

All of the Abrahamic religions
are patriarchal horrors.

Just more bullshit from a muslim doofus.

 

PZ Myers

PZ Myers is the marquee blogger at ScienceBlogs,
which National Geographic now runs.

_____

Dear John,
Why do you think Dr. Myers
deserves the support of the National Geographic Society?

Nat Geo blogger on religion: “Grow the fuck up.”

A special welcome to all new visitors arriving from USA Today.
Like you, we’re curious about PZ Myers’ arrangement with National Geographic, but John Fahey, NG’s CEO, won’t answer our questions.
He refuses to give us — and virtually every other journalist — an interview.
But you can help.
If you believe the National Geographic Society — a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — should encourage civil discourse about religion and be more transparent about its publicly subsidized operations, then please help us crowdsource our interview request by clicking Recommend, below. (Or: Click the Like button in the Dear John: Let’s Talk widget, at right). We’re anxious to bring up the PZ Myers issue (and many other concerns) with John ASAP.
Thank you.

Introducing Dr. PZ Myers:

A biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, Dr. Myers is also the marquee talent at ScienceBlogs, which was recently acquired by National Geographic.

This week, Dr. Myers is in Dublin, Ireland, attending the World Atheist Convention (#wac11), and he’s tweeting:

Here’s his longer take at ScienceBlogs, which is now owned and under the editorial control of National Geographic:

The first panel (DPR Jones, Lone Frank, Richard Dawkins) at the Wotld [sic] Atheist Convention has got us off to a roaring good start. …

PZ Myers

The basic conflict raised was by DPR Jones, who expressed a rather pessimistic view that religiosity was an inevitable consequence of human psychology, and we’re not going to escape it….

Psychology is not an issue of inevitability. We grow and change all the time, and to suggest that one state is determined because we can developmental evidence for it is misleading. An example: there is a game that children play that palls for us adults. It’s called peek-a-boo. That one year olds can be naturally thrilled by hiding and reappearing  says nothing about adult behavior. Unfortunately, we live in cultures that have enshrined peek-a-boo as an act of reverence, that couples weekly peek-a-boo sessions with sociability, and tells everyone they’ll be horribly punished if they aren’t good at peek-a-boo. Don’t tell me it’s an inevitable aspect of human nature, because my response will be to tell you to just grow the fuck up. Some of us already have.

_____

Dear John,
Any thoughts
about a blogger in our Society’s editorial stable
who tells religious people “to just grow the fuck up”?

_____

Update: Another tweet from Dr. Myers:


Persecuted Christians in China: Does our Society care?

Let’s say you’re a journalist in China who is working on a story about Christians who worship in underground churches. This is the official response you can expect:

(The reporter here is Stephen McDonell of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.)

Now let’s say you’re a journalist in China who wants to do stories about cheetahs and lovely landscapes. This is the official response you can expect:

Chris Johns & Terry Adamson shake hands with our new publishing partners in Beijing (2007).

_____

Dear John,
Do you believe freedom of religion in China is important
to our society — and our Society?

If so, why does the National Geographic Society’s official journal ignore the subject?
If not, why not?

Who cares about religious freedom?

Profiles in Courage

Members of an unsanctioned Beijing church gathered for prayer at its tiny office this month in preparation for a confrontation with the authorities.

… “We are not antigovernment, but we cannot give up our church family and our faith,” Wei Na, 30, the church choir director, said last week just before more than 160 congregants were corralled onto buses and detained.

— The New York Times, April 17, 2011

_____

Profiles in making whatever compromises are required
to access the enormous market in China

Chris Johns & Terry Adamson celebrate NGM's new publishing partnership in the People's Republic of China. (2007)

Santas ejected from Tiananmen Square

Santas gather in Tiananmen Square for a group photo on Saturday... moments before security guards kicked them out.

According to The Beijinger:

“… The gathering was part of the SantaCon Christmas pub crawl on Saturday, which saw a large group of revelers dressed in red and white costumes visit sites across the city. Authorities were not impressed, it seems, when they gathered on Tiananmen Square. The Global Times reports:

“When the Santas assembled for a group shot before leaving for the next phase of the daylong pub-crawl, police demanded they disperse.

‘You are causing a social disturbance, leave the square now,’ an officer said.

When asked why, the officer said, ‘This is an order of the Beijing police department.’

‘If you want to visit Tiananmen, come in the appropriate way,’ he added.”

_____

Dear John,

•  Why do you think government authorities in China feel threatened by a group of holiday revelers dressed up in Santa suits?

•  Why do you think government authorities in China are not threatened by National Geographic, which recently received a warm welcome to that country?

John rarely, if ever, gives interviews.
But we’re asking for one — partly to hear his answers to these questions —
and you can help by clicking “Recommend,” below.

Don’t have a Facebook account? Or prefer not to show your face? That’s okay.
Just email me — alan [at] societymatters [dot] org — and
I’ll raise our Anonymous But Curious tally by one.
(It’s under the Facebook widget in the right sidebar.)

_____
≡  Santa photo from the Global Times via The Beijinger

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