For 135 years, National Geographic Magazine has set the standard for stellar journalism about nature and the environment. On Wednesday, Nat Geo slashed the last remnants of its legendary staff of writers and editors, according to multiple sources.
Several of the publication’s writers and editors broke the news on Twitter, with a few even asking for work. Later, a spokesperson for National Geographic acknowledged the cuts to Outsider, adding that the magazine would continue with “exceptional multi-platform storytelling.”
Craig Welch, a longtime editor and writer for the magazine, said in his Twitter post that the company was “laying off all of its staff writers.” In a public statement obtained by several news outlets on Wednesday, the company suggested that its print journalism would continue, though likely from freelance writers only.
“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,” according to the statement obtained by Outsider. “Any insinuation that the recent changes will negatively impact the magazine, or the quality of our storytelling, is simply incorrect.”
The Walt Disney Company remains the majority owner of the 135-year-old company, with a 73% stake. National Geographic was initially bought by Fox, which was then bought by Disney. The magazine’s growing body of video content has been featured on the Disney+ streaming platform since its launch a few years ago.
More Layoffs to Come?
So far, the layoffs appear to only affect writers for the magazine and news site — both owned and managed by Disney. The National Geographic masthead lists six writers: Douglas Main, Chris Welch, Laura Parker, Alejandra Borunda, Michael Greshko, and Nina Strochlic. The same masthead listed 18 writers at the beginning of this year, according to Observer.
The round of cuts announced today was precipitated by repeated layoffs since Disney gained a majority stake in the company. In 2022, then-editor-in-chief Nathan Lump told Axios that the company would spend more time making “short-form videos” for social media. The same article referenced a statement from Disney, which said additional layoffs were on the horizon.
As Twitter’s large body of media professionals responded to the staff writer cuts with shock and disappointment, Disney released its second quarterly earnings report this year. According to NPR, Walt Disney Company reported a 13% increase in quarterly earnings — to $21.8 billion.