Adventures on rocky roads and memory lanes

The good news is that Dirck Halstead’s The Digital Journalist is still up and running, having received a good sum of cash through donations. Long may this continue!

The bad news is that National Geographic Adventure magazine is folding. When Caroline Hirsch, the┬áDeputy Photo Editor, mailed me the news yesterday, my heart sank. No, I can’t say I was totally surprised. But saddened certainly. I felt like that child who, long suspecting that the tooth fairy and Santa Claus don’t exist, has this finally and irrefutably confirmed. (What, the Easter Bunny too?)

My heart and soul used to be in the adventure world. I gave my all to that community and then, eight years ago, teetering on the brink of burnout, I too closed an adventure magazine. As the Editor-in-Chief of Out There, I had done my damnedest for that community, had fought the odds to keep the magazine alive, fly the flag on behalf of my heroes and heroines, but the money-hungry media company that owned us just wanted more and more profit. It was the best of times and the worst of times. So we closed down the monthly publication and instigated a far more sustainable model of stand-alone annuals. They continue to this day and the brand limps along. (Well done, Fiona McIntosh, for pulling it off on a shoestring.)

Now I wave farewell to that old figure of inspiration. I guess it’s that the public is saying we simply already have too much adventure in our lives. Adventure sport and travel is so Last Millennium. Back then, when the economy and our careers were such a sure thing, we needed to dash off on exciting adventures. Now that the daily grind has become the hourly rollercoaster, we’re looking for peace and quiet. Too much adventure already!

1 Comment

  1. Monica Graaff
    February 12, 2010

    I too mourn the closing of National Geographic Adventure. I remember bursting with pride when National Geographic phoned me – the then founding editor of Out There – for some advice before they launched. Who would have thought, however, that an international brand of such stature would suffer the same fate as Out There!

    It raises some questions, as you have done. You suggest we have lost our appetite for adventure. I don’t think so. I think we just don’t have the right critical mass of adventurers in a time of recession and advertising shrinkage. There have always been more comfort travelers than outdoor adventurers, and this is why NG Traveler survives in its current form, and NG Adventurer does not.

    As we head for the most turbulent time in human history, we should remember, humanity has always thrived on adventure, be it outdoors, in the councils of power, or at the cutting edge of technology. Adventure is where we hone and refine our survival skills. When the going gets tough, we dig deep and become alert. We take note of the new terrain and select a new set of resources to make it to the other side. And often we redefine our purpose to make it relevant to a new set of circumstances. That’s what we have to do now. Old media and old adventure sport / travel values are last millennium. Adventure is not. Long live adventure!


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