November 3, 2015

Jim Romenesko | NPPA | Washingtonian | POLITICO

Journalists at National Geographic are learning whether they still have jobs today, Jim Romenesko reported on Tuesday. Romenesko published a memo from National Geographic CEO Gary Knell that read, in part, “Please watch your inbox for important information about your employment status tomorrow.”

After very careful and serious consideration, we are ready to communicate how our restructuring and transformation will affect each employee at National Geographic. To that end, please make every effort to be available tomorrow, November 3rd, either in your regular work location, and/or by phone.

In September, National Geographic announced that the magazine and its assets had been sold to 21st Century Fox. The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported that the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox would hold a 73 percent stake in the company.

On Tuesday, Donald R. Winslow wrote for the National Press Photographers Association about the impending layoffs, which are significant:

An email sent out this morning from Nancy Lee Ott, one of National Geographic Creative’s picture editors, to the magazine’s photographers confirmed that she was one of the staff let go. Ott’s eMail today told the NGS photographers, “You have been the light of my life these last 28 years.” She started in the magazine’s photography lab with 35mm film and up until today’s layoffs she worked in the magazine’s image catalog collection.

Among those who were the first to be let go on Tuesday morning, according to our source, was also one of the magazine’s top picture editors and one of the magazine’s page designers who – according to several photographers – was “the best designer” on staff.

Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon (a former Poynter colleague) covered the cuts and included a statement from National Geographic:

“The entities combined have about 2,000 employees, and all staff have been advised as to their status as of closing. Involuntary separations will represent about 9 percent of the overall workforce reduction, many in shared services and a voluntary separation offer has also been made to eligible employees.”

The Fox acquisition is set to close by Nov. 16, according to POLITICO’s Peter Sterne.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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