National Geographic announced today it will become a for-profit venture, 73% of which will be owned by Fox.
Simply looking at content, the writing had been on the wall for nearly decade. I canceled my subscription earlier this summer. Had I wanted to see covers and articles about “love”, “death”, “war”, “genes”, “God” “weed”, and so forth, I would have subscribed to a popular interest magazine, not an in-depth geography magazine. Long gone are the days when a red letter day in the mail greeted you with “Which Way Now for Argentina?”, “Following the Reindeer with Norway’s Lapps”, “Sri Lanka: Time of Testing”, or even “Faulkner’s Mississippi”.
National Geographic is an institution to which I owe an unquantifiable amount. In fact, as institutions go, only the UofC usurps “The Society”. Between reading its magazines, books and atlases, and studying for the National Geographic Bee, the yellow frame has consumed years of my life.
I frankly don’t care if it’s non-profit, for-profit, or state-owned, nor do I know enough about the inner workings and finances to have a formed opinion.
But I do care that it inspires generations of curious, active, driven, sensitive and globally minded citizens.
This is a transformation. National Geographic has not died. It will continue to exist, albeit in a different form, and perhaps an injection of cash and an emphasis on growth will reinvigorate it to become the revelation it once was.