10 September, 2015. 16:10
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Society has entered into a partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox empire, heralding a new direction for the former not-for-profit organisation. Despite being designed not to generate a profit, the society changed hands for nearly US$750 million – which has left members and subscribers baffled.
Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has championed various environmental causes and inspired generations of people to care about the planet. Any profit made from the sale of magazines and advertising was directed straight back into the foundation, whereby the money would be used to spearhead causes at the core of the society.
After today’s announcement, many commentators and business analysts have been hesitant to agree on where the money will now be going. The News Corp conglomerate has its roots in sensationalist and tabloid journalism – a direction National Geographic might have to take if it wants to survive.
“While we want to save the environment, we also want to sell magazines,” said NG editor Susan Goldberg. “Our new format might take a while for our readers to get used to. Now that we have money to provide the reader with quality storytelling and information, the quality should start to increase.”
Goldberg was unable to confirm on the new National Geographic format, but insiders have already agreed that the magazine will channel the tabloid layout of its New Corp step-siblings. What society members can look forward to has sent the industry abuzz. Former News of the World editor Andrew Neil has reportedly been recruited to revamp the magazine.
“I’m thinking, 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Pandas or some bullshit like that, you know,” said Mr Neil. “Fuck it, while I’m at it I might put a few flyers in the fucking thing from JB Hi-Fi or something.”
Fox paid $725 million for its majority share of National Geographic. That will raise the Society’s endowment to just under a billion dollars.