Knowledge & Exploration

On February 20, 2017, Nat Geo WILD launched its seventh annual ‘Big Cat Week’, a week of premiere programming and activities dedicated to telling the stories of nature’s fiercest felines—lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers and more—around the world. ‘Big Cat Week’ is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment by 21st Century Fox’s National Geographic to stop poaching, save habitat and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world. The initiative was co-founded by big cat experts Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and supports protection efforts through assessment, on-the-ground conservation, education, and global public-awareness campaigns—since 2009, BCI has supported over 95 innovative grants to protect seven iconic big cat species across 27 countries.

The Big Cats Initiative Sister School Program is an interactive learning opportunity that connects classrooms in the U.S. and abroad with students living near big cat populations across the African continent. One such classroom is P.S. 205, the Fiorello Laguardia School located in the Bronx, which is paired with Gudigwa Primary School in Botswana. Through photos, letters, and virtual assemblies over the last three years, the two schools have created substantial cross-cultural exchange and discussion about the decline of big cats in the wild and what that means for the ecosystem around them.

Last Thursday, P.S. 205 students helped Nat Geo WILD kick off ‘Big Cat Week’ by spending some time with the Jouberts themselves, who live in Botswana and work closely with Gudigwa Primary School. After a special screening of their new documentary, Soul of the Cat, the Jouberts spoke to nearly 400 4th and 5th graders about the history, purpose, and progress of BCI, their role as explorers and filmmakers, and the world of students at Gudigwa, which P.S. 205 has raised $1,500 for through classroom fundraisers. At the end of the presentation, students gave the Jouberts letters to take back to students at Gudigwa and participated in an auditorium-wide ROAR for big cats around the world, while being reminded that even people who live in New York City far from big cat populations can make a difference in protecting them.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from South Africa who have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 25 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films (and five Emmys), 10 books, six scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. As Explorers-in-Residence with National Geographic, the Jouberts are now focused on developing solutions to halt big cat endangerment, which has seen the number of lions in Africa drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in just 50 years.

“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.”

Learn more about ‘Big Cat Week’ and the Big Cats Initiative.


Star India TED Talks TV Series Hindi Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan

Through a groundbreaking partnership with TED, the nonprofit dedicated to sharing talks from the world’s leading thinkers, 21st Century Fox’s STAR India has announced its latest pro-social television series, TED Talks India: Nayi Soch (“New Thinking”). The show will feature speakers presenting big ideas in Hindi in TED’s signature format, with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan serving as the host. The series marks the first time TED will collaborate with a major network and star to produce a TV series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English.

“At STAR, we have always believed in pushing the boundaries with new ideas, creativity and fresh thinking,” said Uday Shankar, Chairman & CEO, STAR India. “Nobody reflects this belief more than TED and we are thrilled to collaborate with them in bringing the power of ideas to our audiences with TED Talks India: Nayi Soch. In an age of high volatility the role of ideas to fuel positive change cannot be overstated. We are delighted to have Shah Rukh Khan share our vision and lend his charisma to this exciting endeavor.”

TED Talks India: Nayi Soch will air on Star Plus, STAR’s flagship channel and its #1 Hindi general entertainment channel. TED will unveil more details about the series, including its official release date and the initial lineup of speakers, at its annual conference in Vancouver in April.

“The sheer size of Star TV’s audience, with more than 650 million viewers, makes this a significant milestone in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds,” said Juliet Blake, head of TV at TED and executive producer of the series. “Global television is opening up a new frontier for TED.”

The new series is the latest chapter in STAR’s long history of producing compelling, socially relevant content that sparks conversation and drives change. The best known example of the company’s commitment to social progress is Satyamev Jayate (“Truth Alone Prevails”), an Oprah-style talk show in which Bollywood star Aamir Khan travels the country exploring India’s most pressing social issues, from the caste system to water scarcity to LGBT rights. The series raised more than $45 million for its NGO partners over the course of its three seasons, and at one point STAR estimated the show had reached 3 out of every 4 Indians who watch TV or own a mobile phone.

Shankar spoke about SMJ’s impact on Indian culture, as well as his company’s investment in using the power of its programming to drive change, at the Paley Center for Media in New York in 2014. "Each business contributes its own share to society, but there's a certain amount of premium that society places on media businesses," he said. "I've always felt—and my bosses have always encouraged me—to challenge the status quo... Our job is to question, to focus the spotlight on what we feel needs to be observed more closely."

Since SMJ, STAR has continued to support socially-minded programming, such as Amitabh Bachchan’s series Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi, which celebrated personal stories about those making a difference in their communities. The company has also led a number of recent awareness and activism campaigns, such as October’s promos in which cricket players replaced their last names on the backs of their jerseys with their mothers’ names. Previously, STAR launched the #CheckOutMyGame campaign to support women in sports and developed the VithU smartphone app, allowing women to send out GPS distress signals when they fear they are in danger of assault.

“Star India’s legacy of using television as an instrument of social change, and TED’s unequivocal drive to showcase simple but unique ideas in an effort to spark debate and conversation are a very powerful combination,” said Khan. “I believe TED Talks India- Nayi Soch will inspire many minds across India. It is a concept I connected with instantly, as I believe that the media is perhaps the single most powerful vehicle to inspire change. I am looking forward to working with TED and Star India, and truly hope that together, we are able to inspire young minds across India and the world.”

Learn more about TED Talks India: Nayi Soch.


Katie Couric, Gender Revolution

In support of the television premiere of Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, National Geographic and Picture Motion are partnering to launch a free screening series across the U.S. The Gender Revolution Tour invites all universities, high schools, and nonprofits to request a free DVD of the film, along with a comprehensive discussion guide full of resources, to continue the conversation on understanding gender and identity in 2017.

“From the very start, it was my hope that as many people as possible would be given the opportunity to see this film,” said Couric. “I am thrilled that along with National Geographic and Picture Motion, we are going to be able to share Gender Revolution and our accompanying discussion guide with groups all over the country.”

The documentary follows Couric as she travels coast to coast meeting people at the forefront of what National Geographic is calling the “gender revolution.” Through dozens of interviews, Couric covers a range of topics, from intersex biology to gender pronouns to societal conflict surrounding the issues. The tour aims to expand on these conversations taking place around the world by providing nuanced, well-researched information on the evolution of gender identity.

“National Geographic is about exploration and discovery. Through the Gender Revolution Tour, we want to encourage constructive conversations that will allow people to connect with each other over material that is science based, investigative and in some cases, deeply personal,” said Chris Albert, executive vice president, global communications for National Geographic. “We believe this is a timely and groundbreaking documentary, and are thrilled to make it available for free to any organization interested in expanding its knowledge on the gender discussion.”

The two-hour special premieres on National Geographic on Monday, February 6 at 9pm Eastern. Produced by Katie Couric Media with National Geographic Studios and World of Wonder Productions, Gender Revolution will also air on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages. 

Watch the trailer now and click here to request a free screening today.


Gavin Grimm talks to Couric about his story and having his case heard by the Supreme Court

The two-hour National Geographic special, Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, celebrated its world premiere at the New York Times Center on Thursday, February 2. The documentary accompanies National Geographic’s January issue, which dives into the world’s rapidly changing beliefs about gender in 2017.

Gender Revolution approaches the conversation of gender through lenses of social relations, brain chemistry, cultural norms and personal experience. Couric’s interest in gender identity arose three years ago, when her daughter came home from college and mentioned that new classes began with each student sharing their name and preferred gender pronoun. “I thought there was so much important information behind the headlines, the tweets, the articles—and I wanted to take a step back to see if it all indicated a shift in our thinking and really roll up my sleeves to connect the dots,” said Couric at Thursday’s premiere.

Gavin Grimm is a high school senior and transgender male whose story is one of the many featured in the film. Two years ago, Gavin’s school ruled that he wouldn’t be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom despite identifying as a boy—the case made its way up to national debate and will now be heard by the Supreme Court in the spring. “I’m excited for the humanization that this documentary will bring to the trans community, because for a lot of people, it’s still just an abstract concept…There’s not a lot of representation of trans people in television or other forms of media…so I’m hoping it will bring a clear look at who trans people are,” says Gavin.

The film premiere was followed by a panel of notable experts, doctors, and activists, including Hari Nef, the first openly transgender woman to sign a global modeling contract, and Georgiann Davis, professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, both of whom were featured in the documentary. The panel was moderated by Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic.

Gender Revolution is produced by Katie Couric Media with National Geographic Studios, premieres on National Geographic television on Monday, February 6 at 9pm Eastern, and will air around the world in 171 countries and 45 languages. In partnership with Picture Motion, National Geographic will also be hosting free screenings of Gender Revolution at high schools, colleges, and nonprofits around the country.

Watch the trailer now:  


Fox Sports Supports PSA photoshoot with National Association on Mental Illness nominated for Cynopsis Social Good Award

FOX Sports, National Geographic and the Fox Business Network have garnered a total of ten nominations for the third annual Cynopsis Social Good Awards, a ceremony celebrating the media industry’s leading social responsibility initiatives. The nominations represent the breadth of social issues on which 21st Century Fox businesses engage their audiences, from National Geographic’s on-air campaigns to preserve America’s National Parks to FOX Sports Supports’ efforts to help military veterans transition to civilian life. The winners will be announced at a breakfast in New York City on March 2.

The nominations for 21CF businesses include the following:

  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for Before the Flood
  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for National Geographic
  • Best Overall Marketing: National Geographic & American Express for “Partners in Preservation: National Parks”
  • Best Spot (Over 30 Seconds): FOX Sports for “Rebuild” MVP & FOX Sports Supports
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic for Before the Flood
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic & Subaru of America for “Find Your Park, Love Your Park”
  • Nonprofit/Corporate Partnership: National Geographic & DAVIDOFF Cool Water for “Love the Ocean”
  • Public Service Announcement: FOX Sports for “Stigma Free” from FOX Sports Supports and the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Best Episode with a Social Good Theme: The Centsables (Fox Business Network) for “The Centsinnati 500”
  • Social Good Shining Stars: FOX Sports Supports

FOX Sports Supports won the “Social Good Shining Sports Star” category at last year’s ceremony, the top honor for overall charitable sports program. The initiative has contributed millions of dollars to more than 40 charities through on-air engagement such as PSAs, in-game reads and on-screen graphics across FOX’s sports properties. Its current partnerships with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and more were chosen by a vote of FOX Sports employees in December 2015.

“The partnership with FOX Sports is of tremendous value in the Stigma Free movement and amplifies NAMI’s efforts at helping build better lives and promote a thriving American community,” said Katrina Gay, NAMI’s National Director of Communications and Public Affairs.

The National Geographic campaigns nominated each utilize the breadth of the organization’s resources to reach diverse audiences. The “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” campaign from National Geographic and Subaru of America, for example, is geared toward teaching fourth graders across the United States about the importance of U.S. national parks by driving viewers toward a host of educational resources available at National Geographic’s website. In addition, “Partners in Preservation: National Parks” awarded $2 million in grants in 2016 to historic sites in need of preservation within national parks, as decided by popular vote on the campaign website.

“We love to give our readers an opportunity to engage with their passion for parks and ‘Partners in Preservation: National Parks’ is an ideal way to activate our very engaged community and empower them to participate,” said Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic.

Learn more about the Cynopsis Social Good awards, and view the full list of this year’s nominees.