In September, news began circulating that Rupert Murdoch had bought National Geographic. This immediately disturbed me. To me, Rupert Murdoch is a poison that National Geographic was forced to drink to stay alive. The magazine has long been a staple in my family, and it was the face of American environmentalism to me growing up. I naively thought that we would be able to count on them for reasoned factual information about the natural world around us for generations to come. Now after only two months in Murdoch's hands, it seems those days are in the past.
You see, National Geographic meant something to me. My grandmother got one every month and never once threw one away. The stacked yellow spines loomed in great towering heaps on the table behind her favorite chair in the living room. To me they represented something very important about my grandmother and her values. They represented a love of nature and a view of the world much more expansive than the fields of the small farm she lived on. National Geographic was her window into that great world outside. As I've grown up I've come to realize that love of nature and thirst for knowledge were my Grandmother's gifts to me, and that the endless pile of National Geographics just one way of communicating that.
This all may be a lot to hang on an institution, but in my mind it was one of those last shining beacons of the kind that seem to fade out faster as the years pass. I am hoping for a future that includes children and grandparents alike continuing to be inspired by our beautiful world. Sadly they have to look to a different beacon, because National Geographic's has just gone out. RIP.