National Geographic’s Goldberg Says Closed Doors Won’t Work Anymore

[responsive]susan-goldberg-photo-266x400[/responsive]Calling it “the best time in the world to be editor-in-chief,” National Geographic’s Susan Goldberg is enthusiastically embracing the new realities of publishing, bringing a fresh approach to the iconic magazine.

Goldberg was interviewed by The Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon and replied with an abundance of optimism and realism in her approach.

According to Beaujon, “Goldberg has reason for her optimism. While other magazines struggle for footing in the digital era, National Geographic has greater reach on social media than much younger publications, including Wired.”

Goldberg agreed, underscoring that digital channels have given them “a broader audience than ever to those stories.”

One of the beautiful things about National Geographic is the timelessness of the stories, and that is something that will continue, Goldberg asserts, “but at the same time they need to be the kind of things people are going to talk about.”

How is she making that happen?

“We’ve expanded our online staff, people who are doing blogging, news stories, people who are doing enterprise,” she tells Beaujon. “But then most of our staff has always been freelancers, both photographers and writers. By and large, most of our in-house people are editors.”

And she’s changed not just the makeup of the staff, but the layout of the office as well, revamping the former warren of closed-door offices into a beautiful and open newsroom.

“When I got here, everybody was in their own offices. You’d look down these long hallways, and sometimes all the doors to the offices were shut. If you are doing a monthly print magazine, you can operate in an office culture like that,” said Goldberg.

“But if what you’re trying to do is that monthly print magazine plus daily stories that involve using all of the tools in your tool kit, you’ve got to be able to have people who talk to each other.”

What’s most refreshing about Goldberg’s approach is her straightforward acknowledgement of the company’s business model, minus any angst or handwriting. After all, as a former editor in the print newspaper world, she’s seen the worst. National Geographic has many divisions – from TV to merchandise to exhibitions and exploration – and the print magazine remains a classic reference point for it all. We look forward to great things from Goldberg and her team.