On November 3, 2015, a company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox, took control of the National Geographic. That same day the publication's management emailed all of its staff to report to the National Geographic's headquarters, where they were told that 180 members of its award-winning staff were being laid off. Nothing like that had ever happened in the 127-year history of the publication, formerly owned by the National Geographic Society of Washington.
According to an article in the Daily Kos, the layoffs affect almost every department of the non-profit organization, including the magazine, which the society began publishing just after its founding in 1888. The layoffs are also expected to affect people who work for the National Geographic Channel, the most profitable part of the organization.
In addition to the layoffs and buy-outs, the National Geographic Society said it would freeze its pension plan for eligible employees, eliminate medical coverage for future retirees and change its contribution to an employee 401(k) plan so that all employees receive the same percentage contribution.
In September, the CEO of the National Geographic Society, Greg Knell, claimed that "there won't be an (editorial) turn in a direction that is different from the National Geographic heritage." But, according to the Daily Kos article, Murdoch's other enterprises do not reflect the standards held by the National Geographic and Murdoch has a history of changing the editorial direction of purchased properties.
Of the many comments that followed the purchase of the National Geographic by Murdoch, perhaps the following best expresses the feeling of the public: "National Geographic, 1888-2015. RIP."
(Editor's Note: Many years ago the photoengraving company I worked for produced the four-color plates of the art work that appeared in the National Geographic. Those engravings, and the art they depicted, were considered the creme de la creme in that field. They were in a class by themselves. So was the National Geographic magazine.)