When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do on a hot summer day was wandering down the street from our house to the Somers Point Public Library. Back then, it was in what used to be a church, probably built in the 1800's. The whole place was musty and poorly organized, but it had air conditioning! That place was bone chilling.
I spent countless hours in one particular section, among stacks of magazines with that yellow border. Those countless hours enabled me to explore the world through National Geographic. I dreamed constantly of being a Nat Geo photographer, exploring the globe for new creatures and meeting strange cultures. At some point, I believe the seventh grade, my parents bought me a subscription. The maps, beautifully designed, immediately were put up on my walls. While the world travel articles and photos were great, I was especially riveted by the archaeology and paleontology stories.
The magazine opened my eyes to the beauty and wonder of Earth.
Fast forward 20 years. I'm in the Air Force as a broadcast journalist, but my real passion is photography. I shoot some boring video, and National Geographic picks it up. A spark was lit, and I realized that through what I did, I might make it some day working for them! The more I posted, the more I saw video clips and bits of stories being picked up for Nat Geo shows and specials. I started uploading some of my photography to Yourshot, and was published on their website back in 2013 for the Daily Dozen. I was head over heels.
Fast forward again to this year. Word got out that 21st Century Fox was purchasing National Geographic in a $725-million deal.
According to National Geographic, "The partnership separates the media outlets from the society itself. The publications will become for-profit, while the Society will continue as a non-profit, with an enhanced endowment of nearly $1 billion – roughly double the current endowment. National Geographic officials said the influx will allow the Society to expand its work in science, exploration, and education."
According to Declan Moore, Nat Geo's chief media officer, “They’re not in the business of meddling,” he said of 21st Century Fox. “They’ve got great respect for the [National Geographic] brand.”
On Nov. 3, the day the merger with Fox, Moore was proved a liar as 180 employees of Nat Geo were laid off, and others offered buyouts.
The future of the brand remains unknown, but with Rupert Murdoch behind the scenes, we can probably expect magazines that look like this:
Sometimes doing the right thing is difficult. I deleted all of my Yourshot images and changed my account name to Delete Me. There are no doubt many people who think I am over reacting or being dramatic, but the truth is that I am a staunch supporter for fair and balanced reporting, something that Rupert Murdoch has not and never will believe in, and it's scary. It gives him a legitimate brand name that he can use to push right-wing pseudo-science.
Whether or not global warming is real, I always pose the question: "Why not make the Earth cleaner anyway?" There are so many people that act deeply offended that chemicals shouldn't be dumped in the ocean, or that toxins shouldn't be regulated. It is, quite honestly, baffling that grown human adults don't see a benefit to keeping our planet clean and safe for our children, as well as future generations. With National Geographic firmly in the grasp of a soulless corporation, it is sad to say the dream of 7-year-old me is dead.