Storytelling as an Agent of Global Change

Published on21 OCT 2015

Storytelling is fundamental to the mission of National Geographic Society, which it leverages to impact global change. Panelists Marcus Bleasdale, contributing photographer for National Geographic; Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief and editorial director of National Geographic; and Dr. Enric Sala, marine ecologist and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, along with moderator Claudia Malley, National Geographic's executive vice president of Global Corporate Partnerships, share their perspectives on storytelling and how science and exploration work to help readers understand the economic and social change it can create.

Goldberg, on the power of photography: “Photos can change the world…we saw it in Vietnam. I think we’re beginning to see it here in this Syrian crisis. There is example after example of how photos rise above words. You don’t need language to look at a photo and to understand what it’s telling you. [Photography] has the universal ability to inspire people and get them to act, and I think that’s what makes our storytelling [at National Geographic Society] very unique.”

Sala, on his motivation to protect the ocean: “I was a professor and my job was to study the influx of humans in the ocean. One day I realized that what I was doing was simply writing the obituary of ocean life. I felt very frustrated, like the doctor who’s telling the patient how she’s going to die with excruciating detail, and not offering a cure. So I decided to quit academia and went to National Geographic, knocked on the door and proposed the Pristine Seas project to go to the last wild places in the ocean to try to protect them.”

Bleasdale, on his primary role as an activist: “I’m a photographer who comes at photography from a different angle. At National Geographic Society, you’ll find a lot of people who are activists and photography comes second…When we get to influence a leader to change his climate model or influence a multi-national organization to clean up their supply chain, that drives us forward and inspires us to the next level.”

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