Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/08/30

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Subject: Re: [Leica] National Geographic scandal
From: Rolfe Tessem <>
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 13:20:31 -0400
References: <>

Eric Welch wrote:
> Well, I agree in part, but you obviously are not aware of all they do. 
> Or what it takes to produce what they produce every month for 11,000,000 
> readers when it still take two or three years to go from shoot to print. 
> Or the education support, or map makers, or fact checkers (who obviously 
> slip up once in a while), book division, etc, etc.
> And I disagree, the photos have not deteriorated to the same level as 
> the writing - and even the writing isn't as bad as people say - if they 
> understand that many of the writers aren't really writers. They are 
> adventurers, scientists, mountain climbers, but experts in their fields. 
> What they lack in prose is made up for with information. You don't 
> expect Shakespeare and you won't be so disappointed.
> Their problem is they think TV is more important than print, and don't 
> want to spend as much money on print as they used to. The very people 
> who made them what they were are getting short-shrift because 
> bean-counters are counting the wrong beans. You can bet every person in 
> that building working in the print division of National Geographic has 
> to justify their existence, unlike the folks over in the "golden boy" TV 
> division.


I take the point.

However, unless something has changed very recently, the TV operation is 
based in New York, not Washington. It used to be that the number of 
offices and employees at that gleaming white building north of the White 
House was justified on the basis that the company was a non-profit 
corporation and by law had to spend its "profits" in areas related to 
the corporate purpose. The non-profit status outraged other magazines 
because NGS got preferred postal rates, etc.

I believe that the company formally changed its status at some point 
because it would have been hard to square with being in the for-profit 
television business, for example.

As for the quality of the writing in NG, it was always turgid IMHO. Now 
it is just bad and turgid. But, as with Playboy, I never bought the 
magazine for the words :-).


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