National Geographic mag lays off its last staff writers

Thank you for reminding me that Nickelodeon, in its early days, had a lengthy Sunday programming block of National Geographic documentaries (there’s an excellent YouTube video, part of a history of Nickelodeon). That was when Nickelodeon was in its “green vegetable channel” or “PBS that you pay for” phase.

They could be ridiculously slow but I’d still sit and watch for hours because the gentle narration was comforting and I never knew when an interesting fact was going to pop up. I still remember learning about the pink dolphins of the Amazon, and the folklore that they could take the shapes of men and walk among people, but they always wore hats to cover their blowholes.


A friend of mine that worked as a newspaper photographer in the 1970s and 80s got a freelance assignment from NG. They told him what they wanted shot, when the event was happening and how they wanted the photos composed. He shot what they asked for and shot a bunch of alternative images. They thanked him for his work, paid him and used the shots he had been directed to take.
Magazines frequently did their layouts well ahead of press time. They knew where the photos were going to be placed in the story and needed the pictures to support the finished layout (facing the fold, full bleed, single or double truck etc.). I ran into similar requirements when shooting for corporate house rags.


I have that here in work! I must watch it now. I’ll have to borrow a DVD player to do it.


It’s one of those movies that attempted to approached race relations from a dark humor/alternative history angle. Told in like Ken Burns style documentary, with “commercial breaks”.

Spike Lee later attached his name to the film, even though he had nothing to do with its making (mainly to help promote the film). Kevin went on to write for Spike Lee’s films Chi-Raq, BlacKkKlansman, and Da 5 Bloods. The film can be a little shocking in parts, which is probably what drew Lee to it. It has been years since I’ve watched it, but probably should again. Same with some of his other films like The Only Good Indian.


Lee’s name is on the cover in big writing alright, but it’s “executive producer”… I assumed it was marketing!


My friend is taking over his generational home and helping his elderly mom pare down some of the stuff. One of the items they’re looking to rehome is a collection of National Geographics all the way back to at least 1900.

Like most of our problems, it’s a feedback loop. The quality and availability of educational and mind expanding material declines, leading to a less intelligent and curious population, leading to further decline of media and so forth. One of those things that just happens during an empire’s end stage.


I guess this was inevitable, but it’s really sad. I worry a lot about the future of journalism and this is not helping.

Like many here, I grew up reading Nat Geo and devoured every issue. We kept them on a shelf in the den like everyone else because warehousing old Nat Geos is just something those of us of a certain age did. It’s not like we expected to ever read them again but they were too nice to throw away. It felt disrespectful or wasteful. So you put them on a shelf and dusted them for ten years, then threw them away. :joy:

I confess I let my own subscription lapse in adulthood because honestly the tone of the entire magazine got very grim. Every single article became about climate change and another fifty critical species that have gone extinct. Of course those are crucially important issues that we need to be fixing, but also I already know that and I got weary of having 100 pages of doom show up in my mailbox every month.


When I was a kid (30~40 years ago), there were some magazines that were always in our home: National Geographic, Newsweek, Popular Science, and Discovery. Newsweek has long since become a shell of its former self, as has Popular Science. A couple of years ago I decided to try getting a subscription for National Geographic and Discovery. I was dismayed to learn that Discovery had been reduced to quarterly instead of monthly, though in general I was still really impressed by the writing quality in National Geographic. I guess I’ll just let my subscription expire.


That’s already basically happened to mad magazine. It barely exists (in that it doesn’t publish new content in its interior pages) but that Star Wars themed special collection that I saw posted about on boingboing a few weeks ago has been on those supermarket shelves for well over a year now.
I’ve also noticed this trend of trying to rush out celebrity tribute magazines almost like they’re trying to predict who will die next. A couple screwed up and made betty white 100th birthday issues prematurely.


OH man, that is cool. I’ve seen some of the older ones, and they had some cool illustrations as well as early color photography.


If that is what it ends up devolving into, the magazine will lose its cachet long before that and it’ll be 1000 hits per day rather than 10,000. Shortly thereafter it’ll fold altogether or become a strictly online presence.


I also loved the maps they included in some issues. I did keep a handful of them when I gave away my magazines. This isn’t mine, but I know I kept this one, as it is one of the most mind blowing things to my young mind.


This is pretty depressing. We’re at a point where it’s more vital than ever to be documenting what’s going on around the planet, with ecosystems and indigenous cultures, and there’s nothing equivalent taking its place - those journalism jobs are just gone, and representative of a broad trend. Our society is in serious trouble.


I cancelled my subscription a couple of decades ago when I noticed that over the course of a year it seemed like a sizeable proportion of several editions had been dedicated to sanitizing the image of the Canadian tar sands. Once I realized that I was consumer of propaganda content that had been paid for at both ends, I knew that I would be unable to trust anything else that they’d publish in the future. So I stopped.


This is a bummer. In the '90’s I was very friendly with our local librarian and one day she told me I could not pick up my usual stack of national geographic magazines because they were getting rid of them all. I was highly disappointed however the next day I had an idea and went back and offered to buy out the entire collection which the library agreed to. I got every national geographic magazine from 1950-1999 for $20. I had to borrow my mother’s truck to pick it all up. Then I read them all over and over and over.

This story makes me sad.


many years ago I used to hang our in the Scary.Devil.Monestary[1]. One of the entries in my quotes for from there is:

Can’t remember where I heard it, but I remember someone on T.V. being
introduced as “Executive Director of $FOO” with the follow-on comment
that an Executive Director is a bit like a bidet. Both add a touch of
class, but no-one is really sure what they are for.

[1] you either know what that was or it would take too long to explain


One was Parade, which about a year later quit publishing its print edition.


This is such a shame. I was a big fan of both the magazine and their very rad nature videos as a kid. My local library always had a very solid collection and there was one about sharks I was especially fond of.

That said, I’ve done some writing for NatGeo over the last five or six years and it’s always been a fairly chaotic experience. One contact there had several different email addresses when I was working with her (they started as @nationalgeographic, then went to @natgeo, before landing on @disney). On top of that, I worked with three different editors over the course of one project. The revolving door made it really hard to build any kind of relationship with folks there. It was a weird experience (but still a great one, since seeing my name attached to NatGeo is one of my professional highlights).


HBO Max: “hold my beer!”