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National Geographic magazine lays off last of its staff writers

By Paulina Icban Published Jun 29, 2023 4:39 pm

The National Geographic magazine, which has been putting the spotlight on science and nature for 135 years, laid off its last remaining staff writers.

According to a June 28 report by The Washington Post, the popular yellow-framed magazine has cut its remaining 19 editorial staffers, "who were notified in April that these terminations were coming."

The news has also been confirmed by some NatGeo employees on Twitter. "National Geographic is laying off its staff writers, including me. It’s been a wonderful five years—an honor and a joy. Very proud of the work that my colleagues and I have done here," senior writer Douglas Main tweeted, noting that the affected workers have been informed about the company's decision and that he is now open to freelance gigs.

“It’s been an epic run, @NatGeo,” former writer Nina Strochlic tweeted. “My colleagues and I were unbelievably lucky to be the last-ever class of staff writers.”

"NatGeo is laying off all of its staff writers. I’ve been so lucky. I got to work w/ incredible journalists and tell important, global stories. It’s been an honor,” Craig Welch, a former senior writer for the magazine, wrote in a post.  

While some writers remain on the staff roster, future editorial work will be completed by freelancers and their remaining editors as part of the cost-cutting measures by the publication’s parent firm, the Walt Disney Company. Disney owns 73% of the publishing company, while The National Geographic Society, a non-profit organization, owns the remaining 27%. 

This marks the latest wave of layoffs at the magazine, with CNN International reporting that the move comes after Disney "slashed thousands of staffers across its divisions this year." 

A spokesperson for National Geographic clarified to the media outlet that issues will still be published every month.  

“Staffing changes will not change our ability to do this work, but rather give us more flexibility to tell different stories and meet our audiences where they are across our many platforms,” they said, noting that claims about the negative impacts of their latest move on the magazine and its quality are “simply incorrect.”  

Editor-in-chief Nathan Lump previously revealed their plan to make the most of social media through short-form content, including TikTok and Instagram Reels. 

According to The Washington Post, National Geographic peaked in the 1980s, garnering 12 million readers in the United States and millions more across the globe. In 2022, it experienced a decline with subscribers of only around 1.8 million, as reported by the Alliance for Audited Media.