The venerable, award-winning National Geographic magazine will now be pieced together by editors and freelancers.
In this file photo taken on Oct. 26, 2016, Pakistan's Inam Khan, owner of a book shop shows a copy of a magazine with the photograph of Afghan refugee woman Sharbat Gulla, from his rare collection in Islamabad, Pakistan. Credit: B.K. Bangash / AP

National Geographic has laid off all its staff writers, leaving the venerable, award-winning magazine to be pieced together by editors and freelancers.

In all, 19 editorial staffers were cut, including the small audio department at the magazine. They had been notified in April that the ax would fall, The Washington Post reported. The layoffs are the latest in a slew of cuts at tech and media publications this year.

The writers themselves tweeted out the news, focusing on the great run they’d had.

“My new National Geographic just arrived, which includes my latest feature — my 16th, and my last as a senior writer,” wrote Craig Welch, whose award-winning work has graced many a cover and shed light on urgent environmental issues. “NatGeo is laying off all of its staff writers. I’ve been so lucky. I got to work (with) incredible journalists and tell important, global stories. It’s been an honor.”

“National Geographic is laying off its staff writers, including me,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s been a wonderful five years — an honor and a joy. Very proud of the work that my colleagues and I have done here.”

Owned since 2019 by the Walt Disney Co., the 135-year-old chronicler of the natural world has seen a slew of job reductions over the past several years, including an unprecedented layoff of six top editors last September, the Post reported.

Founded by the National Geographic Society (which remains a minority partner) in 1888, the magazine was sold to 21st Century Fox in 2015. Disney snagged a majority stake when it bought the Rupert Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox for $71 billion in 2019, per the Post. Before the Fox purchase, the magazine’s parent company cut 200 employees, or 9 percent of its staff, via layoffs and buyouts.

The collectible magazine, chock full of articles and photos that took months to research and prepare, had 12 million U.S. subscribers in its heyday in the 1980s and another few million more around the world, the Post noted. At the end of 2022 it had fewer than 2 million subscribers in the U.S.

Story by Theresa Braine, New York Daily News.