Timeline per Eva’s request

January 14, 2012 @ 1:22pm

Hi Eva,

In a comment, you wrote:

you might want to get back and do some deeper research of dates and time stamps as to what was posted when and by whom. You are a journalist, correct, so this research and getting facts straight should come BEFORE posting conclusions.. or not?


Here’s the timeline with date stamps: 

January 6, 2012 @ 12:09pm

David posts “Editor National Geographic.” It includes a photo of Chris Johns in the lobby of NGS headquarters, along with this message:

This is the entrance to National Geographic and this is the Editor of National Geographic Magazine. Yes, Chris Johns a field photographer with “more than 20″ published essays to his credit who became THE editor of NatGeo. We are on our way to his office after being cleared by 7 year security officer D’Won Addison, 35, who grew up right here in Washington and served in the U.S. Army. Chris hung up his cameras and now has an elegant office with a nice view of downtown Washington and about 5 blocks from the White House. Johns has a power job. You will read my exclusive interview with him right here on Burn just as soon as I can get it transcribed. He will tell you from his viewpoint what it takes to make it as a photographer shooting for a major magazine.  Stay tuned.

From this, it’s not entirely clear whether or not the interview has already taken place — although, since David is in the building with Chris, and David already seems to know what Chris is going to say (“he will tell you”), I thought the interview was already complete, and that David simply needed to transcribe his recording.

But it’s sort of vague…

January 6, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

Sidney Atkins posts his comment, including this:

This is a wonderful opportunity and many thanks to David and Chris Johns for this… anything they will tell emerging photographers about the story-building and picture editing process at Nat Geo will be valuable and helpful information. … 

The questions I would most like to ask Chris Johns about are not directly related to photography, please forgive me, but rather ones he might prefer not to talk about publicly in this forum, about the overall direction and balance of the magazine, and the political struggles over those things for the last 30 years or so… While in general I am a big fan of Nat Geo, there is one thing in particular that has bothered me for decades. Many of the major advertisers are car companies, and their ads often show their cars displayed prominently in “adventurous” locations and situations… fragile environments where no responsible person would take a motor vehicle. Other ads by big energy or chemical companies are clearly “greenwash,” PR attempts to sanitize their impact on ecosystems. If one looks at the environmental stories in NG, and then looks at the ads, there is a very mixed message being sent out.

Saying “anything they will tell” suggests Sidney thinks the interview hasn’t happened yet. And the fact that others are posting their questions makes me think they’re hoping Chris will answer them.

So now I’m thinking the interview is yet to come. Which is prompting people to post questions for David to ask Chris.

January 7, 2012 @ 7:13am

At Burn, David begins replying to readers’ comments and questions, with replies to Jeff, Harry, and eva, including this reply to eva:

“of course i asked Chris Johns these kinds of questions”

Asked.” Past tense. Now I’m wondering if the interview is already over. But it’s still not entirely clear.

January 8, 2012 @ 3:27pm

At Society Matters, I posted “Excellent Questions, Mr. Atkins.” In the post, I said that David had announced an interview with Chris Johns. I listed some of the questions posted by Burn readers, including the ones by Sidney Atkins. I also note that David answered some of those questions, but decided to ignore Sidney’s question about greenwashing and editorial changes at the Magazine.

Again: I said David didn’t comment on Sidney’s question. I did NOT say that Chris Johns hadn’t responded. In fact, I said this:

We don’t blame David, of course. His “interview” with Chris Johns isn’t really an interview at all. David will never ask Chris to answer Sidney’s (and Gerhard’s) questions — especially if David wants to continue shooting stories for National Geographic.

Needless to say, we’ll be delighted if David proves us wrong, but we’re not holding our breath. At the National Geographic Society, The Silence begins at the top.

At this point, I’m thinking the interview was yet to come: “David will never ask….”  “We’ll be delighted if David proves us wrong….” I’m looking ahead to the interview, hoping for the best.

And when I wrote that David’s “interview isn’t an interview at all,” that does NOT mean I thought the interview was already over; it means I doubted that David really would challenge Chris.


January 8, 2012 @ 7:17pm

David leaves a comment at Society Matters:


Wait a minute!! You are a journalist…And yet you are totally jumping to conclusions or did not read the story.

I wrote very clearly that an interview with Chris was forthcoming. To be. In the future. In two days.

There is NOT YET AN INTERVIEW with Chris.

He might not even know Sidney asked a question. Chris agreed to an interview by me but never agreed to answer Burn reader questions although he might indeed do so.

So please Alan give me a chance to transcribe the interview. I am also interviewing several other editors as part of a series. I do have a long time relationship with Chris. I looked at his portfolio when he was a young photographer in Kansas. He was an intern in Kansas and I was at the Geographic , so he sought my advice.

I do not earn my living from NatGeo. Or any part of it really. My essays upcoming on Rio and OBX only partially financed by NatGeo. So I may have personal friends and loyalties, but am not “loyal for the money”.

Thanks Alan for caring. I know you do.

Cheers, David


Sounds like David thinks I’m claiming Chris was unresponsive. Actually, my post was about how David was unresponsive to Sidney’s question.

Now I know the interview is still to come, so…

January 8, 2012 @ 8:55pm

… I write a reply to David with the questions I hope he’ll pose to Chris:

Hi David,

Thank you for your speedy response. …

After reading your post, it sounded as though your interview with Chris had already taken place, on the same day that you took the photo at headquarters, and that you just needed some time to do the transcription. There was no mention of “forthcoming”… “in the future” … “two days” … or anything similar. In fact, your response to Eva says: “i asked Chris Johns these kids of questions….” Asked. Past tense. So naturally I thought the interview was already complete. 

But the interview hasn’t taken place yet?? You have two more days to pull together your questions? Perfect….. 

You have a golden opportunity, David….

… and so forth.


January 11, 2012 @ (not clear what time)

David posted the transcript of his interview.


January 12, 2012 @ 9:47am

I posted my critique of David’s interview.



Eva: The comments that came later — at Burn and at Society Matters — are not really relevant to your concerns. But given this timeline, what do you think I misrepresented or got wrong?

all the best,

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