FL: In compiling The Complete National Geographic DVD-ROM, were you struck by any changes in the magazine over the years? Was there anything that surprised or delighted or even embarrassed you about the magazine's history?
CJ: Well, when Alexander Graham Bell and a group of highly respected gentlemen started the National Geographic Society in 1888 and the first magazine came out in October 1888, they said they wanted to cover the world and all that's in it. We still do that today. I think it's fascinating to look at The Complete National Geographic because you can see how the world has changed. And of course National Geographic magazine would be, in a way, almost irresponsible if it didn't change with the world.
One of the reasons I can say that with authority is because we at National Geographic from the get-go since 1905—that's when we first started running photographs in the magazine—have had this incredibly strong commitment to running cutting-edge photography. We were one of the first publications to figure out and publish pictures that were made underwater—and deep underwater. We were one of the first magazines to explore color photography and publish color photography. And now, of course, as photography has evolved, it's enabled us to put cameras in all kinds of situations and our photographers to capture much more on a digital file than they ever could on film.
I tell the photographers here, and the same goes for writers: "Show me and tell me what you see. But tell me and show me what you feel." I think this constant evolution of photography and the technical aspects of photography, what you can do with a camera now is much different than when I started in the field.
You can actually capture on an image now on a memory card things you could see but you couldn't really capture on film. That's really exciting. I use that example to say National Geographic has this 120-plus-year history, but it's my job as editor of the magazine to build on that rich foundation and continue to have it evolve and grow. We're dedicated to making every issue of National Geographic better than every previous issue. That's our commitment, and that driving force to excellence has been at National Geographic magazine for decades, and we're as committed as ever to take that commitment to excellence and push it to higher and higher levels.