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.
Climate change denier Rupert Murdoch already laying off 9% of National Geographic staff months after merger https://t.co/c2qYDvgTAc
— Joe Public (@jpublik) November 4, 2015
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.
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.”