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Friday, 11 September 2015


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*That* piece might become a T.O.P. classic. It would deserve it. And for the sad fact: Probably it's good to prepare the usual obituaries, for the beginning of a wonderful friendship...

"I am incredibly proud of what [media enterprise] has been able to accomplish. But media is a business, and being an independent content producer in a time of increasing consolidation is a challenge."

Al Gore, on selling Current TV, his media enterprise, to Al Jazeera

I'm sure you also felt that Al Gore sold his soul when he announced that. And wrote a similar post for TOP. Right?

[The National Geographic has been world famous as a showcase for photography for more than a century. What does "Current TV," whatever that is, have to do with photography? --Mike]

Thank you, Beelzebub! I won't feel guilty when I toss the renewal form in the trash. Like many other people, I kept renewing my subscription out of sentiment, even though the photography and the subjects are not what they used to be. And the National Geographic Channel? Ugh...

The swimsuit issue could be interesting, though.

I wish I still had my NG subscription so I could demonstrate my offence by canceling a renewal.
That fact that I no longer have one I assume makes me partially responsible.
But at least some of the blame must be carried by the magazines sales department. My growing mountains of yellow magazines disturbed me and I was never enticed by any electronic alternative offered. Basically I don't know if there is a good electronic alternative. I did once purchase a iPad app from them but all it ever showed was some nice pictures. So they had my home address AND apple account details but still didn't manage to let me know how I can spend more money with them.

This is one of your satirical masterpieces -- easily as good as, possibly better than, the one you did years ago about what would have happened if classic photographers like Irving Penn and Cartier-Bresson had been able to submit their images to Internet photo forums for comments.

"National Geographic" now has as much value as "Kodak" selfie sticks.

The Devil is fond of mis-quoting … "somebody" … and he does so here. What was said is that the love of money is the root of all evil. Discerning the difference is left as an exercise for the reader.

[Fixed. Thanks. --Mike]

Here are some future cover stories that we look forward to from the new National Geographic.


Are you sure he didn't sign off saying,"I'll catch you later..."

As an Australian, the devil has made me ashamed for a very long time. All Aussies are very quick to point out that the devil became a US citizen back in the 80's, but the smell of brimstone remains.

The Apocalypse is upon us...

Top: Excellent photography has long been an important part of National Geographic Magazine. Many great photographers have been in the employ of the Magazine. How do you see the future of photography in National Geographic.

Devil: Photography will continue to be a big part of the Magazine. We have given notice to all our staff photographers and their support staff. In their place we will be establishing a new on-line photo sharing service. All camera and phone owners will be invited to share their exotic location images with us and we will use our exclusive rights to these images to bring a new vitality to the Magazine.

Top: Are you not worried that the majority of images shared will be selfies?

Devil: We think this will bring a new and vital relationship with our audience. Of course we do have some concerns that faces will occupy rather more of image space than we believe appropriate. In order to counter this, the sharing agreement states that if the photographer's face occupies more than 25% of the frame (after we crop the photo), then then my face will be substituted for that of the photographer and the contributing photographer automatically forfeits his soul.

Top: I noticed you used the term "our exclusive rights" in relation to shared images. Could you please explain?

Devil: Yes, the sharing agreement specifies that by sharing any image on our site, the photographer assigns all rights of use to us. He specifically acknowledges that he/she will not use any images shared with us for any commercial or personal purpose. It is entirely our responsibility to maximize any revenue generation opportunities from these images.

Top: And the photographer receives no compensation.

Devil: Quite the contrary. The contributing photographer receives world-wide recognition for his work through the inclusion of his image in the scene. We believe that all of our contributors will be delighted with this arrangement.

Brilliant! Love the bit about god but you'll probably get some stick for that. It will be interesting to see if the Murdoch defenders outnumber the god defenders. Now go and wash your brain out.

That piece is spot on ... terrifyingly so

And that's why I keep coming back to check out TOP. Mike has a way of writing that makes whatever point so cleverly. A joy to read, whether I agree with him or not.

Mike, this is brilliant and hilarious. Are they changing the magazine title to "Irrational Geographic" now?

Well done, Mike; it's amazing how you reflect my thinking on the world's issues, a tribute to your good sense. ;-)
I wonder if the devil isn't also secretly in cahoots with Sony? How else could they get those big sensors into those little cameras?

I have been a subscriber to "National Geographic" for many years, mainly for the photography but also for some of the accompanying articles. Recently, I have been viewing NG's digital version on my iPad, and it is a greatly enhanced experience that I highly recommend. This takeover by FOX has me worried. I will be surprised if the slant of the magazine does not change. How can a Murdoch run enterprise refrain from pushing for the highest return on its investment? And how can it countenance NG's longstanding concern for the environment, when all of Murdoch's other publications are devoted to the exact opposite? I will continue my subscription to see how things play out, but I am not optimistic.

Dear Mike,

Aw hell (so to speak). I'm letting my subscription lapse at the end of the year.

pax / Ctein

Love it, what a great interview, the highlight of my week.

I can not tell you how sad, shocked, and angered when I heard the news, on Public Radio no less!

There is a growing cancer in the world of legitimate, unbiased information dissemination. This is but another tumor that will ultimately lead to the death of unblemished truth.

Trump's countenance on the cover of Time two weeks ago with the caption of "deal with it". Says it all.

How can we combat the disease of greed?

If Nat Geo Mag changes for the worse, it will be my great pleasure to not renew, and tell them why. We'll see.....

The international tolerance of this gangster is one of the best indications that we live in an essentially lawless age.

Well scripted, Mike!

Same exact 'tude and MO currently on display on NARCOS (Netflix series portraying the life and times of Pedro Escobar).

Next on Nat Geo: How Monsanto GMO trumps so called "Organic."

They sold their soul to the devil in 1997 when they went into the TV business with Fox. "Doomsday Preppers", "Redneck Rockets" and other 'scholarly' entertainment. I turned my back forever when they made a hero out of the Dog Abuser Cesar Milan. They have continued to promote his dangerous, abusive and thoroughly discredited 'training' nonsense, despite the formal objections of even the most reticent veterinary societies. I curse Nat Geo five times a day as I see people abusing their dogs to 'teach' them who is the 'pack leader'.

Mike, you could write for the Twilight Zone.

"And with that ignorant, misinformed and hateful rant, you've lost me as a reader."

Did he take offence on behalf of Murdoch, or the Devil ?

Guess we'll never know.

Great article Mike. I thought something was weird when I got National Geographic channel on my cable and I tried to watch some shows. I was expecting National Geographic shows like I was used to watching on public TV many eons ago but no they were more trashy. I quit watching. I then found out subsequently they were tied in with FOX and it made sense. I have let my 30 plus year subscription to Nat Geo magazine expire a couple of years ago. Now I do not regret that move

Marvellous! It was a pure pleasure to read. One of the best pieces you have written. You are obviously at peace with yourself.
An aside: How did you get Him to sit for the interview? Was it on or off the record?

Photography will never be the same....

The only remaining question is this: has that enormous stack of pre-devil National Geographics in the basement gone up in value or down?

My mother-in-law gave me and my late wife a subscription when I was in college, 50 years ago, and we still get it.

However, just because it's a non-profit educational society doesn't mean that nobody profited from it. The society and the magazine have essentially been a family business since the beginning...sort of like the Murdoch's family business.

Best piece I've read on this news—thanks.

This Banksy collaboration project may appeal to some of the readership:

Subscription cancelled.

Wow. One of the GREAT TOP posts. Cheers!

Regarding Disney Owning the Smithsonian. Take a moment to google how many movie studios Disney actually owns/controls. Hint: almost all of them of any significance. The term "independent" film maker makes me chortle. Those folks make movies for only a few million dollars! SMH

I'm amazed once again that a publication that was bound to survive the current onslaught decides to give in to an outfit that will most likely do more damage than the Internet revolution could ever have done.

First the WSJ, now NatGeo. What's next?

It's the trusted brands that could capitalize on the turmoil, but instead they sink themselves by selling out the very foundation of their strength.

Been reading the "Screwtape Letters" recently, Mike?

So will the border now be red?

When I got my first NG subscription at age 10 or 11, I believed it was a non-profit society for the advancement of science and geographical knowledge.
Then I grew up.

To give the devil his due, Fox and the Fox-controlled NatGeo TV channel did create the Neil deGrasse Tyson-hosted Cosmos reboot/continuation, and that was both excellent and free of the sort of Newscorp neutering you might have expected.

To your point about God wanting individuals to fight the devil for him, Fox cash cow Seth McFarlane was the driving force behind revisiting Cosmos and getting it made, as improbable as that might seem.

Finally, it is worth noting that while Murdoch is unquestionably conservative in his own politics, he's also not very politically motivated. Fox News isn't a mouthpiece for him, it's a very profitable business filling a market gap that was previously there (and a mouthpiece for an entire conservative machine, to be fair). My point being that if there's money to be made in National Geographic magazine, that'll be the goal, and the outcome might not be so dire as you might assume, content-wise.

May the Devil stay away from TOP!

You shouldn't talk to the Devil
He's Bad.

As Kodak went, so does National Geographic and The Saturday Evening Post and countless other publications our grandparents, our parents and perhaps we as children enjoyed. As with time itself, evolution is the keyword. What thrives encourages others to die, and maybe that is the solution. Not what we leave for those who follow,rather what we don't leave..

I think it is great! I am a long time subscriber to NG and I am glad that they will continue. I am a big Fox news fan as you can guess. I watch it every night. It is a bit lonely here on this blog. Where are the rest of the center right folks? Guess I will go spray some weeds with my GMO. Love that stuff...

The past repeats itself: "Scientific American".

'Nough said?

May I respectfully suggest if you wish to address political or social issues that you create a new blog for that. I would like to enjoy your writings on photographic issues, and I enjoy the hobby as an escape from partisanship and to share a common interest with people.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth by some writers reminds me of when the great automotive satan, Volkswagen AG, bought Bentley and Lamborghini. Heresy!! Doom!! Golfs will be disguised at Bentley's! Lambo's with VW engines! Except that VW, by virtue of good German discipline and fiscal management, saved both companies and both companies are now prosperous and producing their best cars ever.

Let's not be too hasty to rend our garments over 21st Century Fox buying NatGeo. Just because some people hate Fox News does not mean 21st Century Fox won't do right by Nat Geo Magazine.

MikeInMKE has helped nicely demonstrate here, that an exact inverse exists for Poe's Law: on the Internet, no satire can ever be made so obviously absurd and comical, that nobody will mistake it for something to be taken seriously!

Anyone disputing the very acceptability of this conceit, by the way, is requested to include CS Lewis's 'Screwtape Letters' in the indictment (fiendish grin).

I've lost my fate in NG magazine long time ago due to some photography scandals they didn't address well. Lots of link don't work anymore, but they happened and NG tried to subside the topics into silence.


I don't care anymore.

Marcell (fiberstrobe)

Mike, I'm sorry, but I am very, very disappointed in this vile and slanderous bit of tactless writing. Equating Murdoch with Satan? Really? Satan I understand is currently instructing his lawyers.


I'll try again, you have makings of a great Twilight Zone script here.

Further MikeinMKE can cancel his subscription at any time.

That really was perfectly written.

The name of other Devil is not Satan, nor Lucifer, it is in fact Rupert. Won't be long now before Nat Geo advocates clear felling of the Amozan, dredging of the Barrier Reef and mass extinction.

Were you channeling Donald Trump, or the Devil, or can any of us tell the difference.

Dear Hanna,

May I respectfully suggest that before you tell an editor what sort of magazine he should be running, you familiarize yourself with it? Because, clearly, you have not made even a minimal effort to do so in this case.

Mike frequently (VERY frequently) addresses social, legal and political topics as they affect photography, viewing photography in a broad context. And vice-versa. TOP is not a gearhead publication that exists in a sociopolitical vacuum. It never has been.

You would not have to read these columns for very long to become aware of that. A slightly less casual perusal of past columns would show that this is how it has been for something like eight (?) years and that it has become a successful and popular enterprise.

Telling Mike how he should run his SUCCESSFUL business differently... well... really? Your qualifications, please?

May I also suggest, most respectfully of course, that your definition of "partisanship" seems to be "someone said something on the net I disagree with."

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

It's fine with me if Mike continues to address political and social issues, as long as his opinions are consistent with mine.

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