Laid-Off National Geographic Writers Say No More Are Left

Departing staffers say they are the last ones
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2023 2:10 PM CDT
It's the End of an Era at National Geographic
Old copies of 'National Geographic' are shown.   (Wikimedia/Fredericknoronha)

National Geographic, one of the most read magazines in the country, no longer has a single staff writer on its payroll, according to staffers who were given the sendoff Wednesday. The magazine said farewell to 19 staffers—including writers Michael Greshko, Doug Main, Nina Strochlic, Craig Welch, and Debra Adams Simmons, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion—as part of the fourth set of layoffs at the Disney-owned publication since 2015, per the Washington Post. Moving forward, editorial operations will rely on freelance writers in addition to "the few editors remaining on staff," per the Guardian. In September, the magazine laid off six editors in what the Post calls "an extraordinary reorganization."

The magazine claims some writers will remain on staff, per the Guardian, though departing staffers dispute that. "NatGeo is laying off all of its staff writers," tweeted Welch. Strochlic said she was part of "the last-ever class of staff writers." Departing staffers also claimed contracts that allowed photographers to spend months in the field in order to produce the magazine's iconic images would be cut back, per the Post. But "any insinuation that the recent changes will negatively impact the magazine, or the quality of our storytelling, is simply incorrect," a NatGeo rep tells CNN. Rather, it will "give us more flexibility to tell different stories and meet our audiences where they are across our many platforms."

Like many print media, the 135-year-old magazine has struggled in the digital era as readers venture online. It counted just under 1.8 million US subscribers at the end of 2022, compared with a peak 12 million in the late 1980s, per the Post. Just last month, the publication announced 2023 will be the last year in which the magazine is sold on US newsstands, according to the outlet. It will presumably move online, where subscribers can find other exclusive content. Responding to the latest changes, the rep said, "National Geographic will continue to publish a monthly magazine that is dedicated to exceptional multi-platform storytelling with cultural impact." (Read more layoffs stories.)

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