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Rupert Murdoch marked his first day of National Geographic ownership by firing 200 employees

National Geographic, the long running and deeply respected world science magazine, was purchased by Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox in September 2015 and he marked the occasion by firing approximately 200 employees from the magazine and television network.

Many of the terminated employees were respected writers, photographers, and editors, some of whom had been with the publication for over twenty years.

The magazine fired several key pieces to its success over the past few decades. The photography department was deeply impacted, as Murdoch fired two veteran photography editors, several award-winning photographers, and page editors. The layoffs are by far the biggest in National Geographic’s 127-year history.

In September, the National Geographic Society struck a $725 Million deal that would give Fox control over the Society’s media rights, including the long-running magazine, the popular set of maps, and the NatGeo television network.

National Geographic found itself in financial trouble as its brand name weakened and sales declined with the rise of the internet. The deal with Murdoch will ensure that the brand will survive. Some were initially optimistic that the magazine would continue relatively unaffected, but the major layoffs proved that changes are afoot.

The National Geographic brand is another gem in 21st Century Fox’s impressive lineup of newspapers, magazines, and television channels. Murdoch owns all of the Fox Networks, The Wall Street Journal, and publishing giant HarperCollins.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 7.25.11 PM

Rupert Murdoch (Flickr)

NG has dramatically changed, but the CEO and remaining staff members are confident that the magazine will grow while staying true to the original mission. In a letter to the dismissed employees, CEO Gary Knell thanked them for years of service and promised to fulfill the magazine’s mission statement.

He concluded the letter on a hopeful note:

“Looking ahead, I am confident National Geographic’s mission will be fulfilled in powerful, new and impactful ways, as we continue to change the world through science, exploration, education and storytelling.”

[Reverb Press] Featured image via Flickr

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Martin Pollard

    November 4, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it. RIP NatGeo, you were great while you lasted. You’ll be missed.

  2. Richard Haven

    November 4, 2015 at 7:22 am

    “… impactful ways …”

    It is already lost contact with the English language

  3. Erik Roman

    November 4, 2015 at 11:37 am

    ‘The deal with Murdoch will ensure that the brand will survive’ — No it won’t. Now the only people who are going to want it are the climate change deniers and the tin foil hat crowd. It’ll be gone in a year.

  4. katherine norton malek

    November 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    “…. continue to change the world through science, education ..” how will that continue when it’s owned by science deniers? I understand why they needed to sell, I even get a business decision to bring in new blood. But selling to Murdoch, King of the propaganda machine?

  5. Matthew Field

    November 4, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    are those funeral bells I hear?

  6. Quinn Stilletto

    November 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Whom ever controls the media will also shape public opinion. This is NOT the man for the job.

  7. mikerhode

    November 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    The CEO has only been on the job for about a year, of course.

  8. lacewing

    November 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    oh great, so another source we aren’t going to be able to trust anymore.

  9. Alfred Lehmberg

    November 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I’m letting my subscription, active since the forties through my father of the same name, lapse. ESAD Murdoch.

  10. Kimberly B Stone

    November 4, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    This is a crime against humanity. This publication is of infinite intellectual value to the world. It has told the most amazing stories of our world to us for generations.

  11. Kevin

    November 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Murdoch can “go to hell”

  12. Charlie Ammen

    November 4, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Hence, The National Geographic becomes a magazine of fictional short stories.

  13. Bob Gage

    November 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    RIP National Geographic … you were one of the best.

  14. teresa biggs

    November 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Clearly a stunt to prove owenership!

  15. Julian

    November 4, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    A shame, but magazines are a dying breed. If you don’t like this, and complain…I hope you at least have a subscription- if not….you can’t whine as you are part of the reason WHY these folks lost their jobs!

  16. Dave Berner

    November 4, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    unfounded optimism

  17. TERRY COOKE

    November 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    this guy r Murdcock should be buried FACE DOWN

  18. BlogDog

    November 4, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    “The magazine fired several key pieces to its success over the past few decades”

    “National Geographic found itself in financial trouble as its brand name weakened and sales declined with the rise of the internet”

    Ah, logical consistency. Where would we be without it?

  19. Inis Magrath (@InisMagrath)

    November 4, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    He should have written:

    “Looking ahead, I am confident National Geographic’s mission will be fulfilled in powerful, new and impactful ways, as we continue to change the world through fabrication of junk science, lying about climate change, dumbing down education and fairy tale storytelling.”

    There. Fixed it.

  20. savoy6

    November 5, 2015 at 1:10 am

    yeah…for the worse….

  21. Ed Chow

    November 5, 2015 at 1:23 am

    It is indeed sad to see Murdoch do that, but there’s something in this article that troubles me more. I had no choice but to write a longer response here:

    https://edchow.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/rupert-murdoch-national-geographic-and-afghanistan-what-the-veil-is-happening/

  22. Don

    November 5, 2015 at 1:29 am

    NG will become People Mag but with animals

  23. Natalie Hartung-Bundy

    November 5, 2015 at 1:59 am

    Worse yet, he’ll go home and sleep like a baby…don’t take it personally, it’s business. Old bastard

  24. Travis Clegg

    November 5, 2015 at 3:13 am

    If it ain’t broken .. don’t try and fix it .. oh and karma !

  25. miguel

    November 5, 2015 at 4:09 am

  26. Laurel Schoenrank

    November 5, 2015 at 6:30 am

    It’s time for me to renew my subscription to National Geographic magazine. I’ve been receiving this magazine my entire life (my dad switched his subscription to my name when I came along), and I’m 58 now. However, with these changes, I’m wondering if I should bother.

  27. J Saulter

    November 5, 2015 at 11:18 am

    As painful as it is, when a corporation is losing money you MUST cut expenses deeply. That includes layoffs. What else would Murdock do – just let it go into bankruptcy because it can’t pay the bills? NATGEO isn’t congress – they have at the very least break even!

  28. Dave van Seters

    November 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    canceled my subscription next thing you know creation theory will be in national geo it will become all right wing christian fascist

  29. Moe

    November 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Your your story will be Lies,Lies and more Lies because your are one big Lying zionist.

  30. Bob

    November 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    cancelling subscription when it expires next month!

  31. Alexander Mitchell

    November 5, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/national-geographic-chief-says-layoffs-done-to-avert-financial-derailment/2015/11/04/83fae59a-8314-11e5-9afb-0c971f713d0c_story.html

    According to this Washington Post article, the layoffs were made in advance of Murdoch having any opportunity to exercise such layoffs/firings.

    But of course, why let facts get in the way of a good anti-Murdoch/rich-guy rant?

  32. Curtis

    November 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Absolute BS.

  33. Owen Morrissy-Murphy

    November 5, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Totally agree with your comment/worry. Are there no National Treasures in the US that the government cannot protect from vultures like Richard Murdoch. He has shown his true colors instantly with these sackings. To the remainder still working with Nat.Geo. remember, “when you sup with the devil, use a very long spoon”

  34. Mitch

    November 5, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    GOOD, Nat Geo has drifted to far from its brand and become just like every other oped driven rag out there!

  35. Mark Orpen

    November 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    In one day National Geographic has lost all it’s credibility

  36. Ivan Suplee White

    November 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    WHY did he fire the personnel?

  37. Michael Dunn

    November 6, 2015 at 12:21 am

    This claim of being able to deliver a print publication (or even an e-zine) that continues to meet the standards of the past in terms of coverage and image impact is not credible given the sacking of so many key creative staff. Who are going to capture the images in the field, write the stories and edit the resulting articles? I don’t imagine that all of that can be contacted out. Also expect assignment rates and allowances to be cut. This is a black day for photography.

  38. Fliptrx

    November 6, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Bologna, I’ve supported National Geography for over 50 years
    without ever having a subscription. Why in the hell do you think they charged the outrageous ad prices they did !

  39. Dollee

    November 6, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Is anyone truely surprised? When one thinks of the ugly face of capitalism…Rupert Murdoch comes to mind…

  40. Robin Jane

    November 6, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Change the world??? I thought national geographic….showcased the world we live in!!

  41. Pat Ross

    November 6, 2015 at 9:22 am

    These employees were not fired they were laid off. The jobs were eliminated. Report facts please not drama.

  42. Scott

    November 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    You need to read this article & especially the next to last paragraph to see this wasn’t Rupert’s doing… https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/national-geographic-society-sets-biggest-layoff-in-its-history/2015/11/03/2966e1b4-8252-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html

  43. Scott

    November 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    So, you only trust articles which subscribe to your political viewpoints ? How naive…

  44. Souvik Chakraborty

    November 6, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    It is time for National fictional-geography (NFG)

  45. J Carey

    November 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I am cancelling my 40 year relationship with National Geographic Society.

  46. Paula

    November 6, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    The magazine will survive under Rupert Murdock but it might not be the quality magazine we are all used to. Firing the people who got you where you are is not a good business move.

  47. Amanda Whatley

    November 7, 2015 at 12:28 am

    it has, not it is…

  48. John

    November 12, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Anyone who thinks that Murdock is not responsible for this decision is very naive! This is the way he can deflect criticism away from him. Have seen this tactic more than once.

  49. Kathy Gray

    November 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    No worries, there are better more accurate science magazines out there, if Murdoch wants to destroy an Icon like National Geographic then fine. Check out Nature Magazine much better, there is Scientific American. I hope it fails and goes out of business and I hope that Rupert Murdoch goes broke so we can all watch his gold digger wife dump him.

  50. Trac Ing

    November 17, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Great news, I read this rag a few times and saw it had become nothing more than a propagandist tool for leftist agendas, now maybe they can get back to FACTS. Great move since this is in almost all schools.

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