Four million and falling fast

Circulation of National Geographic magazine (NGM) is about to fall below 4 million for the first time in generations. And while many print magazines are struggling, National Geographic is struggling more than most: Of the top 25 U.S. consumer magazines, only Reader’s Digest suffered a larger percentage circulation drop than did NGM for the year ending June 30, 2013:

AAM-circulation-magazines-top-25-June-2013

So how does Chris Johns, Editor of National Geographic, talk about the magazine when he’s in public? What do you say when your ship has a gaping hole in its hull and the entire world can see that you’re sinking?

Yes, of course. There’s digital. Digital storytelling that’s exciting and engaging, cross-generational and multi-pronged — all delivered via our critically acclaimed National Geographic iPad app… right?

Gigaom-tablet-magazines-failure

In other words: the web.

But since few, if any, publishers have figured out how to make money on the web, our Society is now financially dependent on this guy:

Rupert Murdoch laughs

{ The Society’s key financial numbers are here. }

John Fahey National Geographic

Cause for alarm

A bogus news flash
&
the death of an iconic American media brand (cont’d):

In the War of Ideas, our Society has surrendered

Economist-new-face-of-terror-soft-power

What is “soft power”?

Soft-Power-book-cover-quote

Not long ago, the National Geographic Society was a
global showcase of soft power and Western values:

Elephant-in-the-room-clip

But all that has changed:
UAE-MEDIA-NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC-ARABIC

Chris Johns and Terry Adamson celebrate the launch of National Geographic’s Arabic edition in 2010. What a far cry this is from the National Geographic Society that once gave maps to Gen. Eisenhower to help Allied forces defeat the Nazis.

Does this mean National Geographic is responsible
for the resurgence of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda?
Of course not.
But does it mean that National Geographic has surrendered
in what The Economist calls the “most important battle of all, that of ideas”?
It sure does.

Growing the Murdoch Way

The gentleman’s question clearly piques the interest
of John Fahey, Chairman of the National Geographic Society.
But John makes no attempt to answer it.

Then again, maybe there’s no need.
After all, John led the National Geographic Society into a “partnership”
with one of the biggest media growth machines in the world:

{Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel.}

What does Rupert Murdoch do with the money he makes
by leveraging the good name of National Geographic?

He exerts his political influence.
Which means he does stuff like this:

guardian-murdoch-climate-denial

September 15, 2013

Does that mean the National Geographic Society
is helping climate deniers like Murdoch
confuse the public and muddy the waters?

Does it mean that National Geographic
is putting money in the pocket
of a media mogul who is pro-fracking,
who disparages environmentalists as “greenies,”
and who is unabashedly pro-growth?

It sure does.

Murdoch-Twitter-cripple-growth

(I think he means “fracking,” not “tracking.”)

Dear John,
How long do you think this game can go on?

John Fahey National Geographic

New frontiers in corporate cynicism

Begin, if you will, with what initially sounds like an earnest question from John Fahey, Chairman and CEO of the National Geographic Society.

During a staff meeting last fall, John described the challenge of producing television shows which don’t ridicule people for the sake of entertainment:

“How do you [make TV shows] in a way
that doesn’t seem exploitative, or holding someone up to ridicule?
How do you get the balance?”

Then, consider this new show, which is a spin-off of the National Geographic series Doomsday Preppers:

Doomsday Castle

 Then, watch this spoof of Doomsday Castle — and of the Doomsday Preppers series as a whole — by the very funny folks at The Onion:

Then, on the Doomsday Castle Facebook page, see the producers laugh along with The Onion at the spoof of their own show: “It was funny.” 

Doomsday Castle Facebook
Then, notice The Onion spoof is actually “presented by” the National Geographic Channel (click image to enlarge):

The Onion and Doomesday Castle

In other words: Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Castle is one long joke on the preppers themselves, all orchestrated by the executives at the National Geographic Channel.

Dear John,

In the audio clip (above), you challenged the National Geographic staff to consider a question which you presented like a Zen koan: “How do you [make TV shows] in a way that doesn’t seem exploitative, or holding someone up to ridicule? How do you get the balance?”

It’s easy: If you produce two TV series about preppers, then don’t pay The Onion to produce a parody that mocks and ridicules preppers.

It’s nasty and deeply dishonest to set people up as the butt of a joke, and then broadcast the joke to millions of people, while you and our “partners” at News Corp count up the profits.

This is a painfully cynical way to run a business. Our Society — and our society — deserve so much better than this.

John Fahey National Geographic

 

This could be our Society’s big break

“Be Fearless,” says Jean Case, National Geographic Society Trustee

For more about Jean Case & The Case Foundation, see this

Parody of a parody

Which one is the real “reality” show?

 

Rupert Murdoch laughs

John Fahey National Geographic

(For more parodies from WNET Thirteen, see this.)

I’m sorry… what was the question, again?

 

Remembering Tiananmen

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests,
and the suppression and slaughter of democracy activists
by the Chinese government:

Once, we did remember this tragedy
(from NGM July 1991) :

But not anymore:
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, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

James Cameron, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

John Fahey National Geographic

Milan-Kundera-quote-power-memory

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