National Geographic magazine was started in 1888 and since then, it has been a non-profit publication. With a new deal however, there are fears that the magazine will now most likely become a for-profit publication. The new partnership includes Nat Geo’s media assets – magazine, studios, digital and social media platforms, maps, books and other business including e-commerce and licensing.
After the $725 million deal, 21st Century Fox will own 73% of the new ‘National Geographic Partners’, while the National Geographic Society will own 27%. James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox and Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, said that there were no plans to change the magazine.
Why are people worried about Nat Geo’s future then? Well, for its 127-year-old history, National Geographic has sponsored groundbreaking scientists and explorers. It has shared vast amounts of information and opinions, using the best creative media platforms. It has kept up with the times and people have grown to trust it. One of its missions includes giving grants to scientists.
Rupert Murdoch is a climate change denier. The Fox media empire is considered to be one of the world’s primary sources of global warming misinformation. This is concerning as neither scientists with any integrity nor audiences would want Nat Geo to turn into a puppet for the unscrupulous.
The National Geographic Society has so far taken the extreme opposite stance to Murdoch’s; it has given grants to many scientists who study the impact of climate change. Even though Gary Knell, president-CEO of the Society stated that the new “attractive revenue stream” (which will be just under $1 billion) will allow them to give greater resources for grants, with Fox having a majority share, who exactly will get those grants?
Just weeks ago, Rupert Murdoch tried to clear the air about himself on Twitter by claiming that he’s a climate change skeptic, not denier. However, there are many videos and articles where his views are clearly those of a denier.
People have also been expressing concern about the iconic Nat Geo magazine covers. There are fears that instead of being captivating, they’ll now be more sensationalist and commercialized. Time will tell.