Brand Confusion Rising

Over at Reddit, an announcement plus a prominently placed edit:

Reddit announcement re National Geographic

The reason for that edit at the top? Reactions to this announcement from Redditors was decidedly mixed. Among the concerns (click images to enlarge):

Reddit comment 1

Reddit comment 2

Reddit comment 3

Reddit comment 4

Reddit comment 5

Reddit comment 6


That last comment isn’t really accurate: National Geographic News is (I believe) part of NG’s Digital Media division, which is part of National Geographic Ventures, which is a taxable entity; it’s not part of the tax-exempt 501(c)3 Society. Jeffhert59 is blurring a line which is quite distinct in National Geographic’s 2010 org chart (click image to enlarge):


Also, that last comment from National Geographic staffer Jeffhert59 (above) is worth remembering. To paraphrase: Yes, the public might see everyone at National Geographic as part of a single company. But we’re not. Honest. “Please don’t mix us all in the same pot.” We are separate. We are NOT the Murdoch people. You can trust us (even though who “us” is  remains a major point of confusion).  

Then again, for some people, this brand confusion is not a bug, it’s a feature:

Rupert Murdoch laughs

John Fahey National Geographic


Who are our Society’s heroes?

Words of wisdom from Nicholas Kristof, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and the winner of the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award:

Nicholas Kristof Facebook Liu Xiaobo

John Fahey National Geographic

NGS CEO John Fahey

Chris Johns

Editor in Chief, National Geographic magazine

Chris Johns Terry Adamson China National Geographic Liu Xiaobo

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

James Cameron on China

James Cameron, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

Rupert Murdoch laughs

We can do so much better than this.

The Death of a Major Media Brand (cont’d)

On Facebook, people react to National Geographic’s
new primetime BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) show,
and they are not amused. BDSM Facebook comments


John Fahey National Geographic____

This BDSM stuff is evidently part of a continuing series:
Watch as National Geographic’s family-friendly brand
continues its breathtaking implosion,
while a powerful media magnate laughs
all the way to the bank

Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism & The Silent, Submissive CEO

New season, new episode:

Taboo BDSM pony play


John Fahey National Geographic

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do

Then again, maybe they do know.
{ How can they not? }


Jenny Daly, president of T Group (quoted above), includes the following TV shows on her production credits: “Fashionista Diaries” for Soapnet, “Night Club Confessions” for Fox Reality and “Pageant Mom’s Unleashed” for E! Entertainment.  Also: “Love is in the Heir”, “Fight For Fame”, “Last Bride Standing”, “Starveillance,” “Diary of an Affair,” “Fake-A-Date,” “Friend or Foe,” and “Party Crashers.”

Given that resumé, Ms. Daly seems like the obvious choice to handle a six-part National Geographic series about faith-based communities.


How many people of faith will these four men
be able to offend in six hours?
Stay tuned…

Sign up to NOT receive our newsletter

Newsletter_chimp_0099ccSign up for our monthly newsletter, and
we promise NOT to send it to you until we have 50,000 subscribers.

Why? Because the ultimate goal of our email list is not to tell you stuff we can share here at Society Matters.

Our goal is to assemble a huge community of people who might be able to persuade the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society to change course.

Because if we don’t, then the Murdoch media madness will continue to spread:


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation
owns the National Geographic Channel.

Please join us on the road to 50,000 — and help us build a crowd that can stand together to tell the National Geographic’s Board of Trustees: our Society — and our society — should not financially sustain itself by betraying people who trust us… by befriending dictatorial thugs… or by mocking the poor and the defenseless.

Please help us tell the NGS Board of Trustees: the Murdoch Madness stops here.

{ We promise to keep your name & email address confidential. }

6 easy steps to making big money in media

STEP 1: Create TV programs that fuel “popular conspiracy theories”:

STEP 2: “Fact check” these same “popular conspiracy theories” which you have aggressively promoted on your own television channel, and show how these theories “can be easily debunked by science”:



STEP 3: Watch the CEO of one of your media subsidiaries stride onto a public stage, and then verbally stumble when he momentarily forgets whether he is the CEO of The Organization That Cares About Science… OR the CEO of The Organization That Perpetuates Conspiracy Theories Because Real Science Is Boring:

STEP 4: Revel in the corporate confusion & personal havoc you’ve created. Congratulate yourself on your ability to create conflict, then monetize it. (As we’ve noted before, Rupert Murdoch is a lot like fight promoter Don King, but with a lot less hair.)


STEP 5: Count your cash.

STEP 6: Rinse & repeat.

Rupert’s Way


“Howard? Bill O’Reilly on line 2….”

Sunday, March 24, 2013 @ 9:09pm
Howard Owens, President of the National Geographic Channel,
says he isn’t ready to commit to producing
a TV special based on Killing Jesus,
the latest book by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. 


Less than 16 hours later,
Howard changes his mind: 


Dear Howard,
What happened?


Bill O'Reilly

Bill O’Reilly


John Fahey National Geographic

≡  Read the full stories in The Hollywood Reporter here and here.


Hit-and-run TV: Who’s driving that Big Yellow Car?

(to hear the same audio with chapter divisions, please see below)

car_at_night_headlightsImagine you witnessed a hit-and-run “accident” one night on the street outside your home. An innocent victim — let’s call him the Hutterite — gets run over by a Big Yellow Car, which then speeds away… but not before you get the license plate number.

The Hutterite struggles to recover, and tries to contact the Big Yellow Car’s owner — let’s call him David Lyle — but Mr. Lyle won’t return the Hutterite’s letters and phone calls. He’s a busy guy. As the CEO of a major TV channel, Mr. Lyle has much to do, and many miles to drive before he sleeps.

Now imagine that six months later you look up — and you see the same Big Yellow Car speeding down the street, heading straight at another innocent pedestrian — let’s call him the Old Believer. We think it’s a safe bet that you’d probably stand up and shout: Hey Old Believer! Look out for that Big Yellow Car!

That’s essentially what I’ve been doing these past few weeks. After the debacle of Meet The Hutterites, David Lyle — CEO of the National Geographic Channel (which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) — has sent a production team to the village of Nikolaevsk, Alaska, to produce a TV “docu-series” about the Old Believers. The premise of the series — religious community devoted to its traditions struggles to confront the challenges of the modern world, etc. — is eerily the same as Meet The Hutterites.

In an attempt to inform the people of Nikolaevsk about what happened to the Hutterites — and to find out the latest news about the pre-production on the Old Believers TV series — I called various people in Nikolaevsk, including Nick & Tina Fefelov, who are being recruited to appear in the show.

When we spoke on the phone, Tina expressed serious reservations about participating in the production. She also mentioned that National Geographic’s production team — Jarrett Lambo, Charlie Marquardt, and Natalia Livingston — would be at her house this Tuesday (February 26, 2013) at 10am to answer questions. Since I have a host of questions about this production — including questions I emailed to Jarrett Lambo on February 16, but which he has ignored — I asked Tina if it would be helpful to her and to the community if I joined that morning meeting at her house via conference call.

Nick & Tina thought that was an excellent idea.

On Tuesday, I called Tina. She put me on speaker phone and introduced me to the group that had gathered in her living room. Almost immediately, Jarrett and Charlie, who are familiar with what we do here at Society Matters, announced that all their comments were off the record. I encouraged them to let us share their answers to our questions — from Tina, Nick, and me — so the entire community of Nikolaevsk might better understand how a National Geographic “docu-series” gets made. After all, bringing light to the facts helps people make wiser decisions. But Jarrett and Charlie insisted they wanted this meeting to be “intimate,” and therefore it had to be off the record.

What to do? If I was guided by the journalistic standards of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation — which is infamous for hacking the phone of a dead school girl, and which also owns the National Geographic Channel — I’d probably post the whole interview anyway. But that’s unethical. If Jarrett & his team refuse to publicly answer some rather simple questions, that’s obviously their right.

But the questions I raised during our discussion — well, those are my questions, and they’re hardly new ones.

So here again are my questions, comments, and concerns — this time in audio form — from Tuesday’s Q&A at Nick & Tina’s house. But since Jarrett and Charlie insisted that everything they said was off the record, I’ve removed all comments by Jarrett, Charlie, and Natalia. (Instead of their voices, you’ll just hear an audio whoosh.)

The people of Nikolaevsk won’t find any answers in this audio, but they might find a few questions that are worth asking again… if and when you see Jarrett, Charlie and Natalia around town:

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