Covers Sell

Covers Sell

National Geographic: Racist

Posted by Scott On March - 27 - 2018

The April 2018 issue of the National Geographic came with a big dose of self-flagellation:  “For decades, our coverage was racist.”

Thus proclaims the new, and only 10th, editor of National Geographic, since its founding in 1888…130 years ago.  Susan Goldberg is the first woman, and the first Jewish person, at the top of the Masthead.  Her editorial letter goes on at great length talking about their many sins from the past.  She commissioned a renowned historian to dig into it and report on the findings bluntly.

“We asked John Edwin Mason to help with this examination. Mason is well positioned for the task: He’s a University of Virginia professor specializing in the history of photography and the history of Africa, a frequent crossroads of our storytelling. He dived into our archives.

What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.

For us this issue also provided an important opportunity to look at our own efforts to illuminate the human journey, a core part of our mission for 130 years. I want a future editor of National Geographic to look back at our coverage with pride—not only about the stories we decided to tell and how we told them but about the diverse group of writers, editors, and photographers behind the work.

We hope you will join us in this exploration of race, beginning this month and continuing throughout the year.”

This has generated mostly praise from both the mainstream media and social media.

This cover, which has gotten plenty of free “earned media”,  showcases fraternal twins as a jumping off point for a discussion of race.  It will probably sell incredibly well.

 

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About Me

Scott Bullock is a veteran circulation expert with over 38 years experience in both Canada and the United States. He has worked on trade titles such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal and Small Press in the USA. In consumer magazines, Scott was the Circulation Director for D Magazine (the city magazine of Dallas, Texas), and in Canada he was the Circulation Director for Toronto Life, Fashion, and Canadian Art. From 2000 to 2004, Scott was a partner at Coast to Coast Newsstand Services. Scott has also held the post of VP Sales & Marketing, for CDS Global, Canada. Currently, CoversSell.Com is Scott’s circulation consultancy. Active clients include: Fly Fusion, Canadian Geographic, Canadian House & Home, Canada’s History, Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Canadian Woodworking, Canadian Cycling, Canadian Running, Canadian Scrapbooker, Legion, Harrowsmith, SkyNews, and SuperTrax.

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