Rupert Murdoch has marked his move into National Geographic by giving the heave-ho to a whole lot of staff.
According to a number of sources, including tweets from staff, around 180 writers, photographers and editors for the world recognised magazine and TV network were fired, following Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox purchasing of the business back in September.
The CEO of National Geographic Society, Greg Knell, claimed back in September that “there won’t be an [editorial] turn in a direction that is different form the National Geographic heritage,” according to Fast Company.
But Knell is now swallowing his words, after around 180 National Geographic employees, or nine per cent of the total workforce, received “involuntary separation” (layoffs) while some other staff members were offered the consideration of voluntary buy-outs, a spokesperson for the company confirmed.
A statement from National Geographic about the staff cuts read:
“The National Geographic Society and the National Geographic Channels are in the process of reorganizing in order to move forward strategically following the closing the NG Partners deal, which is expected to occur in mid-November.
“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 per cent of the overall workforce reduction, many in shared services and a voluntary separation offer has also been made to eligible employees.”
Last week, Knell released a memo to all staff, which was first published by Jim Romenesko, saying, “After very careful and serious consideration, we are ready to communicate how our restructuring and transformation will affect each employee at National Geographic”.
“I cannot thank you enough for your patience and hard work over the last few months. I am proud of how our teams and our organization have approached and responded to this transitional period.”
A follow-up memo from Knell in the afternoon added, “There is no doubt that this strategic move will amplify our mission and message across all media platforms with greater resources than today, all while ensuring the sustainability of the Society for many years to come.
“Part of these efforts also means making the toughest of decisions about the staffing needs of the organizations going forward. Some of our colleagues will be leaving National Geographic over the next few days and, in some cases, weeks.
“We did not make these decisions without very serious consideration and care. We are providing all affected colleagues with meaningful severance packages to assist with the transition. We are also offering some colleagues the opportunity to choose an early separation based on a combination of age and years of service with National Geographic.”
Staff took to Twitter to share the news:
.@RupertMurdoch Murdoch’s Choice: No one knows how many, at this point. Staff sitting by phones waiting to be called down one by one to HR
— Donald R. Winslow (@donaldrwinslow) November 3, 2015
Experienced National Geographic Photo Editor looking for employment. Fox merger elim many today. Will miss my amazing colleagues!
— Sherry L. Brukbacher (@SBrukbacher) November 3, 2015
And then of course every man and his dog had some input, calling to boycott Nat Geo and comparing Murdoch to Joseph Fritzl:
Rupert Murdoch took over National Geographic today. CANCEL YOUR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SUBSCRIPTION. pic.twitter.com/jbMsduDPuJ
— ⒿⓄⓁⓉⒾⓃ ⒿⓄⒺ (@fullofbalogna) November 5, 2015
Rupert Murdoch owning National Geographic is tantamount to Josef Fritzl owning Woman’s Day.
— Rich Wisken (@RichWisken) November 4, 2015