When the climate-change denier/evil billionaire bought National Geographic, National Geographic Society CEO Greg Knell promised that "there won't be an [editorial] turn in a direction that is different form the National Geographic heritage." This week, the company fired some of its most senior, decorated staff.
Murdoch has a long and dishonorable history of remaking the editorial directions of the publications he buys — see, e.g., The Wall Street Journal, which downplayed foreign affairs, government, education and media coverage after the Murdoch acquisition, replacing them with more business and health coverage.
Included in the mass-firings are photo editor Sherry L. Brukbache, picture editor Nancy Lee Ott, photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols, and a designer described by colleagues as "the best designer on staff." At least 180 staffers were fired in all, the largest layoff's in the magazine's 127 year history.
National Geographic's weakness has been its cable channel. While it does feature many pieces on scientific endeavors, it also has featured shows such as Doomsday Preppers and Chasing UFO's which lacked much of the respectability of the print magazine. They have since been removed from the schedule, but the damage to the channels reputation remains, and reflects poorly upon National Geographic itself.
The National Geographic Society has long stood for science, research, and investigation. Murdoch's companies have long stood against all three. The two positions would be in conflict, save Murdoch's company is firmly in control. The editorial changes will therefore be severe, and erode the 127 years of publication excellence. For the men and women who brought National Geographic to worldwide prominence, the termination of employment is a tragic end both for hard-working people, and for National Geographic itself.
Rupert Murdoch Takes Over National Geographic, Then Lays Off Award-Winning Staff
[Nathaniel Downes/Reverb Press]
[Donald R. Winslow/NPAA]
(Image: Rupert Murdoch 2011 Shankbone 3, David Shankbone, CC-BY)