If you haven’t seen a copy of Raw View yet, you need to. It’s a beautifully printed magazine dedicated to photography. Each issue presents a wide range of work, diverse in both the type and subject matter of the photography and in terms of who is producing the work. Each issue is 160 pages, thicker and better printed than many photo books, and each contains nothing but photos and a few text pieces, either about the work shown or interviews with photographers. And starting with issue #5, I’ve got a regular column that focuses on photographers’ notebooks.
Here you can see a flip-through a recent issue (embedded below):
The magazine is put together by a stellar team of international photographers, editors, and writers; it’s an honor for me to be involved. The magazine might be a bit hard to find. It usually comes out 3 times a year, and the best way to make sure you have a copy is to subscribe. At €60, you get three issues for what you might pay for a single photo book.
The dirty secret is that NatGeo needed the money for their endowment. Nothing makes money. Nothing. The only thing holding them together is the channel now, spinning off money so they can be alive.” former Nat Geo executive, speaking to the Guardian
When the merger between Fox and National Geographic was first announced, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi wrote a curious article about how the financial difficulties cited as a reason for the sale were not evident in the National Geographic Society’s publicly-available financial documents. “In fact, in 2013, the most recent year for which records are available, the organization had one of its best years. Its revenue grew 16 percent, topping $500 million and throwing off a $25.7 million surplus. Net assets expanded by 20 percent, putting the society’s net worth close to $900 million,” wrote Farhi. Executives at the organization, including the magazine’s then-editor in chief had all been well compensated for their part in buoying the Society through tumultuous recent years. Farhi reports that executive compensation there ranked among the highest in the country, though cautions that comparison to other non-profits might not be good because the organization is part-charity, part-commercial.
Nevertheless, Farhi’s Nov. 4, 2015, article on National Geographic’s layoffs says that the layoffs were done to avoid “financial derailment.” In 2014, Farhi wrote, “Its revenue declined about 5 percent, to $500 million, and its operations swung from a surplus of $25.5 million to a $20 million loss. Net assets declined by $90 million, to $805.5 million, compared with a year earlier.” In his earlier piece, Farhi wrote that much of National Geographic’s financial growth could be attributed to its investment portfolio, and thus the organization was vulnerable to swings in the stock markets. The sale to Fox was intended to stabilize the organizations financials.
National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary Knell told Farhi, “You can’t prejudge [the merger]. If in two or three years, if we mess up the [National Geographic] brand, then people will judge us. But give us a chance.”
National Geographic is no stranger to corporate partnerships, but this deal seems altogether different from private companies’ underwriting the organization’s grants and operations. In exchange for $725 million, Fox will own 73 percent of the new media company, called National Geographic Partners. The National Geographic Society will own the remaining 27 percent. The chair of the partnership’s board will rotate annually between a Fox representative and a National Geographic Society representative.
WNYC’s On the Media had a good piece a few years back looking at what it called of National Geographic. The show questioned National Geographic Society CEO John Fahey and National Geographic Channel CEO David Lyle about the preponderance of trashy, “pulp” reality shows on the channel.
My hopes aren’t high for what this transition means. The American cable channel TLC was originally run by NASA and featured programming that fit well under its longer name, The Learning Channel. In 1980, the channel was acquired by a private company and began a long slide into what it has become now, a television channel featuring the worst of the worst “reality tv.” It will be interesting to see what becomes of National Geographic’s magazine and other media as this partnership takes hold.
I met Glenn Ruga when I first moved to Boston in 2010. He helmed Boston’s Photographic Resource Center for 4 years, bringing great exhibitions, workshops, and speaker series to the city. He’s also the founder of Social Documentary Network and … Continued
It’s always fascinating to see a foreign perspective on domestic news, and Ferguson is no exception. A number of news outlets have collected observations, some recent and some from August, on how the press outside of the US is covering … Continued
The video above is hilarious. Of course, Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue has a lot of…issues. This year Barbie was in the mix. Last year, the magazine featured “exotic” locals alongside swimsuit models. But forget the controversies for a minute, … Continued
Your browser does not support iframes. With the inspirational video above featuring a diverse collection of National Geographic photographers talking about why they take pictures, the magazine has launched a new photography blog called “Proof.” There’s not much there just … Continued
The Camera Club of New York is holding it’s 4th annual Zine and Self-Published Book Fair this weekend, Aug. 3-4, 2013, presenting work from North, South, and Central America. The event, which includes a lecture by Tony White, the Director … Continued
A few weeks ago Ryo Futamura of Japan’s Einstein Studio wrote in about their latest publication, Nice to Meet You. The mission of the organization, through publications and contests such as this, as Futamura told me, is to find and … Continued
In our first year at dvafoto, I wrote about Kim Rugg, an artist who rearranges the letters on newspaper front pages in alphabetical order. In another imaginative approach to the object of print journalism, Lauren DiCoccio has taken to embroidering … Continued
Fader magazine has just published new work by Daniel Shea focusing on the effects of gun violence on Chicago’s youth. It’s a beautiful and sensitive approach to a difficult topic. The essay, Chicago Fire, grew out of previous work Shea … Continued
Non-profit photography publisher Daylight has started an iPad magazine called Daylight Digital. Published twice a month at $2.99 a month, Daylight Digital focuses on individual artists. The first issue, which is available for free, features new work on Florida by … Continued
“instead of trying to pick apart the meaning and motivation behind photographs, these articles will try to find out how photographers are actually surviving in 2013. I want to talk concretely about the challenges facing photographers, and the conditions that … Continued