National Geographic (magazine)
March 2009 cover of National Geographic
|Categories||Geography, Science, History, Nature|
|6.8 million (Global)|
|First issue||October 18, 1888|
|Company||National Geographic Partners
(21st Century Fox [73%],
National Geographic Society [27%]) 
|Based in||Washington, D.C.|
|Language||English and various other languages|
National Geographic, formerly The National Geographic Magazine, is the official magazine of the National Geographic Society. It has been published continuously since its first issue in 1888, nine months after the Society itself was founded. It primarily contains articles about geography, history, and world culture. The magazine is known for its thick square-bound glossy format with a yellow rectangular border and its extensive use of dramatic photographs.
The magazine is published monthly, and additional map supplements are also included with subscriptions. It is available in a traditional printed edition and through an interactive online edition. On occasion, special editions of the magazine are issued. As of 2015, the magazine was circulated worldwide in nearly 40 local-language editions and had a global circulation of approximately 6.5 million per month according to data published by The Washington Post (down from about 12 million in the late 1980s) or 6.7 million according to National Geographic. This includes a US circulation of 3.5 million. From the 1970s through about 2010 the magazine was printed in Corinth, Mississippi, by private printers until that plant was finally closed.
On September 9, 2015, the National Geographic Society announced a deal with 21st Century Fox that would move the magazine to a new partnership, National Geographic Partners, controlled by 21st Century Fox.
- 1 Administration
- 2 History
- 3 Editors-in-chief of the National Geographic Magazine
- 4 Articles
- 5 Photography
- 6 Map supplements
- 7 Language editions
- 8 Awards
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Chris Johns is chief content officer. He oversees the print and digital expression of National Geographic’s editorial content across its media platforms. He is responsible for National Geographic magazine, News, Books, Traveler magazine, Maps and all digital content with the exception of National Geographic Kids. He reports to Gary Evan Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society.
Terry B. Adamson, Executive Vice President of the Society and the Society's chief legal officer, has overall responsibility for the Society's international publications, including the magazine. He also reports to Knell.
The first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published in October 1888, nine months after the Society was founded. Starting with its January 1905 publication of several full-page pictures of Tibet in 1900–1901, the magazine changed from being a text-oriented publication closer to a scientific journal to featuring extensive pictorial content, and became well known for this style. Among its more recent issues, the June 1985 cover portrait of 13-year-old Afghan girl Sharbat Gula, shot by photographer Steve McCurry, became one of the magazine's most recognizable images.
In the late 1990s, the magazine began publishing The Complete National Geographic, a digital compilation of all the past issues of the magazine. It was then sued over copyright of the magazine as a collective work in Greenberg v. National Geographic and other cases, and temporarily withdrew the availability of the compilation. The magazine eventually prevailed in the dispute, and in July 2009 it resumed publishing a compilation containing all issues through December 2008. The compilation was later updated to make more recent issues available, and the archive and digital edition of the magazine are available online to the magazine's subscribers.
National Geographic Kids, the children's version of the magazine, was launched in 1975 under the name National Geographic World.
Editors-in-chief of the National Geographic Magazine
- John Hyde (October 1888 – 14 September 1900; Editor-in-Chief: 14 September 1900 – February 1903)
- Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (1875–1966) (Editor-in-Chief: February 1903 – 20 January 1920; Managing Editor: 14 September 1900 – February 1903; Assistant Editor: May 1899 – 14 September 1900)
Editor and president of the National Geographic Society (1920–1967)
- Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (21 January 1920 – 5 May 1954)
- John Oliver LaGorce (1880–1959) (5 May 1954 – 8 January 1957)
- Melville Bell Grosvenor (1901–1982) (8 January 1957 – 1 August 1967)
- Frederick Vosburgh (1905–2005) (1 August 1967 – October 1970)
- Gilbert Melville Grosvenor (1931– ) (October 1970 – July 1980)
- Wilbur E. Garrett (July 1980 – April 1990)
- William Graves (April 1990 – December 1994)
- William L. Allen (January 1995 – January 2005)
- Chris Johns (1951–) (January 2005 – April 2014)
- Susan Goldberg (April 2014 – present)
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During the Cold War, the magazine committed itself to presenting a balanced view of the physical and human geography of nations beyond the Iron Curtain. The magazine printed articles on Berlin, de-occupied Austria, the Soviet Union, and Communist China that deliberately downplayed politics to focus on culture. In its coverage of the Space Race, National Geographic focused on the scientific achievement while largely avoiding reference to the race's connection to nuclear arms buildup. There were also many articles in the 1930s, 40s and 50s about the individual states and their resources, along with supplement maps of each state. Many of these articles were written by longtime staff such as Frederick Simpich. There were also articles about biology and science topics.
In later years articles became outspoken on issues such as environmental issues, deforestation, chemical pollution, global warming, and endangered species. Series of articles were included focusing on the history and varied uses of specific products such as a single metal, gem, food crop, or agricultural product, or an archaeological discovery. Occasionally an entire month's issue would be devoted to a single country, past civilization, a natural resource whose future is endangered, or other theme. In recent decades, the National Geographic Society has unveiled other magazines with different focuses. Whereas in the past, the magazine featured lengthy expositions, recent issues have shorter articles.
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In addition to being well known for articles about scenery, history, and the most distant corners of the world, the magazine has been recognized for its book-like quality and its standard of photography. It was during the tenure of Society President Alexander Graham Bell and editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor (GHG) that the significance of illustration was first emphasized, in spite of criticism from some of the Board of Managers who considered the many illustrations an indicator of an “unscientific” conception of geography. By 1910, photographs had become the magazine’s trademark and Grosvenor was constantly on the search for "dynamical pictures" as Graham Bell called them, particularly those that provided a sense of motion in a still image. In 1915, GHG began building the group of staff photographers and providing them with advanced tools including the latest darkroom.
The magazine began to feature some pages of color photography in the early 1930s, when this technology was still in its early development. During the mid-1930s, Luis Marden (1913–2003), a writer and photographer for National Geographic, convinced the magazine to allow its photographers to use the so-called "miniature" 35 mm Leica cameras loaded with Kodachrome film over bulkier cameras with heavy glass plates that required the use of tripods. In 1959, the magazine started publishing small photographs on its covers, later becoming larger photographs. National Geographic photography quickly shifted to digital photography for both its printed magazine and its website. In subsequent years, the cover, while keeping its yellow border, shed its oak leaf trim and bare table of contents, to allow for a full page photograph taken for one of the month's articles. Issues of National Geographic are often kept by subscribers for years and re-sold at thrift stores as collectibles. The standard for photography has remained high over the subsequent decades and the magazine is still illustrated with some of the highest-quality photojournalism in the world. In 2006, National Geographic began an international photography competition with over eighteen countries participating.
In conservative Muslim countries like Iran and Malaysia, photographs featuring topless or scantily clad members of primitive tribal societies are often blacked out; buyers and subscribers often complain that this practice decreases the artistic value of the photographs for which National Geographic is world-renowned.
Srirangam Temple, India (National Geographic Magazine November 1909)
Pyramid of the Niches, El Tajin, (National Geographic Magazine February 1913)
Kathmandu Market (National Geographic Magazine October 1920)
Supplementing the articles, the magazine sometimes provides maps of the regions visited.
National Geographic Maps (originally the Cartographic Division) became a division of the National Geographic Society in 1915. The first supplement map, which appeared in the May 1918 issue of the magazine, titled The Western Theatre of War, served as a reference for overseas military personnel and soldiers' families alike. On some occasions, the Society's map archives have been used by the United States government in instances where its own cartographic resources were limited. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's White House map room was filled with National Geographic maps. A National Geographic map of Europe is featured in the displays of the Winston Churchill museum in London showing Churchill's markings at the Yalta Conference where the Allied leaders divided post-war Europe.
In 1995, National Geographic began publishing in Japanese, its first local language edition. The magazine is currently published in 37 local editions around the world, including one local English version in India.
The following local-language editions have been discontinued:
|Language||Website||First issue||Last issue||Number of issues|
|Mongolian||www.nationalgeographic.mn||October 2012||June 2014||21|
|Greek||www.nationalgeographic.gr||October 1998||December 2014||194|
|Ukrainian||April 2013||January 2015||21|
|Azerbaijani||www.nationalgeographic.az||September 2014||December 2015||16|
|Latvian||www.nationalgeographic.lv||October 2012||March 2016||42|
In association with Trends Publications in Beijing and IDG Asia, National Geographic has been authorized for "copyright cooperation" in China to publish the yellow border magazine, which launched with the July 2007 issue of the magazine with an event in Beijing on July 10, 2007 and another event on December 6, 2007 in Beijing also celebrating the 29th anniversary of normalization of U.S.–China relations featuring former President Jimmy Carter. The mainland China version is one of the two local-language editions that bump the National Geographic logo off its header in favor of a local-language logo; the other one is the Farsi version published under the name Gita Nama.
In contrast to the United States, where membership in the National Geographic Society was until recently the only way to receive the magazine, the worldwide editions are sold on newsstands in addition to regular subscriptions. In several countries, such as Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine National Geographic paved the way for a subscription model in addition to traditional newsstand sales.
On May 1, 2008, National Geographic won three National Magazine Awards—an award solely for its written content—in the reporting category for an article by Peter Hessler on the Chinese economy; an award in the photojournalism category for work by John Stanmeyer on malaria in the Third World; and a prestigious award for general excellence.
Between 1980 and 2011 the magazine has won a total of 24 National Magazine Awards.
In May 2006, 2007, and 2011 National Geographic magazine won the American Society of Magazine Editors' General Excellence Award in the over two million circulation category. In 2010, National Geographic Magazine received the top ASME awards for photojournalism and essay. In 2011, National Geographic Magazine received the top-award from ASME—the Magazine of the Year Award.
In April 2014, National Geographic received the National Magazine Award ("Ellie") for best tablet edition for its multimedia presentation of Robert Draper's story "The Last Chase," about the final days of a tornado researcher who was killed in the line of duty.
- National Geographic Kids
- National Geographic Traveler
- Asian Geographic
- Australian Geographic
- Canadian Geographic and Géographica in Canada
- Chinese National Geography (founded in 1949)
- GEO, Germany
- Vokrug sveta (Russian: Around the World)
- John Patric, Noted writer for National Geographic during the 1930s and 1940s
- Chris Johns (photographer), staff photographer and subsequently, editor-in-chief (2005-2014) of the magazine
- "Masthead: National Geographic Magazine". National Geographic. July 1, 2014. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- "AAM: Total Circ for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- Celebrating 125 years
- "Contact Us". National Geographic. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
- Farhi, Paul (September 9, 2014). "National Geographic gives Fox control of media assets in $725 million deal". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
- "National Geographic Boilerplates". National Geographic Press Room. National Geographic Society. April 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
Published in English and nearly 40 local-language editions, National Geographic magazine has a global circulation of around 6.7 million.
- Parker, Laura. "National Geographic and 21st Century Fox Expand Media Partnership". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- Bryan, C.D.B, "The National Geographic Society, 100 Years of Adventure and Discovery," Abrams Inc., New York, 1997
- "Evolution of National Geographic Magazine" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- The Complete National Geographic. ISBN 978-1-4262-9635-2.
- Wentzel, Volmar K (1998). "GILBERT HOVEY GROSVENOR, FATHER OF PHOTOJOURNALISM". Cosmos Club. Cosmos Club. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
Photographs had unquestionably become the Magazine’s trademark. They confirmed GHG’s conviction, “If the National Geographic Magazine is to progress, it must constantly improve the quality of its illustrations...” At first he borrowed, then bought and probably would have stolen “dynamical” photographs, if in 1915 he had not engaged Franklin L. Fisher as his Chief of Illustrations.
- Wentzel, Volmar K (1998). "GILBERT HOVEY GROSVENOR, FATHER OF PHOTOJOURNALISM". Cosmos Club. Cosmos Club. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- "Milestone Photos". Photo Galleries - Celebrating 125 Years. National Geographic Society. 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
- "Maps of the News – December 2009 Edition", Contours, The Official National Geographic Maps Blog, posted December 17, 2009,
- Grosvenor, Gilbert (1950). Map Services of the National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. A Map Cabinet containing over eighteen National Geographic maps has been presented to every U.S. president since President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Pérez-Peña, Richard. "National Geographic Wins 3 Awards, Honored Beyond Photography". The New York Times, May 2, 2008. Accessed January 8, 2010.
- "American Society of Magazine Editors database". Magazine.org. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- Howard, Brian Clark (May 1, 2014). "National Geographic Wins National Magazine Awards". NGS. National Geographic Society. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
The annual National Magazine Awards are considered the premier awards for magazine journalism and are administered by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Winners were announced at a dinner in New York.
- Roger M. Poole, Explorers House: National Geographic and the World it Made, 2004; reprint, Penguin Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-14-303593-0
- Stephanie L. Hawkins, American Iconographic: "National Geographic," Global Culture, and the Visual Imagination, University of Virginia Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8139-2966-8, 264 pages. A scholarly study of the magazine's rise as a cultural institution that uses the letters of its founders and its readers; argues that National Geographic encouraged readers to question Western values and identify with others.
- Moseley, W.G. 2005. “Reflecting on National Geographic Magazine and Academic Geography: The September 2005 Special Issue on Africa” African Geographical Review. 24: 93–100.
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