Pivots to Video: National Geographic Cuts Staff Writers

The company, which has 280 million Instagram followers, plans to focus more on social media and short-form content.

The first National Geographic Magazine was published in 1888. The 135-year-old company has since evolved to include a website with 11+ million monthly visitors, a TV channel, expedition tourism and map publishing. Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

National Geographic is laying off all of its staff writers, according to reports from senior writers Douglas Main and Craig Welch posted on Twitter today (June 28). Staff were informed “a while ago,” according to Main, who worked at the publication for “a wonderful five years,” reporting on animals and wildlife.

“It’s been an honor and a joy,” Main said. “Very proud of the work that my colleagues and I have done here.”

In a statement to Observer, National Geographic confirmed it will continue to publish a monthly magazine “dedicated to exceptional multi-platform storytelling with cultural impact.” According to a spokesperson for the company, “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.”

The Walt Disney (DIS) Company is the majority owner of the 135-year-old National Geographic. Layoffs appear to impact the staff writers for the company’s magazine and news site. The publication’s masthead lists six writers: Main, Welch, Laura Parker, Alejandra Borunda, Michael Greshko and Nina Strochlic. Main and Parker also worked as editors. The website received 11.8 million visits in May, down 20 percent from two months prior, according to SimilarWeb. At the beginning of the year, National Geographic’s masthead listed 18 writers.

National Geographic hired a new editor-in-chief, Nathan Lump, in May 2022. Three months later, the publication laid off six of its top editors, including senior executive editor Indira Lakshmanan. In November, Lump told Axios the company will invest more in social media videos, especially short-form content. The official National Geographic Instagram account has 280 million followers, and its travel account has an additional 47.1 million. Lump said in November the company didn’t plan to decrease production.

In addition to National Geographic’s journalism business, it has a television channel, expedition tourism and a map publishing business. Disney owns 73 percent of these properties. The National Geographic Society, a nonprofit focusing on environmental and historical conservation, owns the other 27 percent. The magazines and news site operate under Disney’s publishing branch.

“I’ve been so lucky,” Welch said in a tweet. “I got to work (with) incredible journalists and tell important, global stories.” He has worked as a writer covering the environment for National Geographic since December 2014. He has written 16 features and other articles for the magazine and website, which include an interview with President Barack Obama about ocean preservation and an investigation on marine heat waves in the Pacific Ocean.

Note: An earlier version of this article stated that it was “unclear if the recent writer layoffs will reduce the frequency of print magazines published.” This article has been updated to include a comment from National Geographic, confirming that its publishing frequency would not change. 

Pivots to Video: National Geographic Cuts Staff Writers