National Geographic aligns print, digital content teams with promotion of Chris Johns to editor-in-chief of magazine, three new hires, says new positions designed to enable storytelling, rich audience experience across platforms, distribution channels

Sandy Yang

Sandy Yang

Jun 7, 2013 – National Geographic

WASHINGTON , June 7, 2013 (press release) – National Geographic announced today the promotion of Chris Johns, editor in chief of National Geographic magazine, to executive vice president, group editorial director and editor in chief, National Geographic. In his expanded role, Johns will lead the editorial development, design and execution of core National Geographic print, digital and video content across distribution channels. Core content includes National Geographic magazine, daily news and blogs, the Society’s digital buildouts around field research and exploration,’s photographic initiatives and communities, and the Society’s short-form video production unit. Johns will continue to report to Declan Moore, president of Publishing and Travel.

Joining Johns’ team are three new hires in the newly created positions of executive editor, digital content, filled by Matt Mansfield; director of photography, filled by Keith Jenkins; and multimedia director, filled by Mike Schmidt. A fourth position, director of photography, has been filled internally by the promotion of Sarah Leen from senior editor for visual story development at National Geographic magazine. The new positions round out an experienced, award-winning editorial team. Mansfield, Jenkins and Leen will report to Johns, and Schmidt will report to Mansfield. The two new directors of photography will work collaboratively to integrate print and digital execution of photographic storytelling. Leen will focus on the magazine’s photography coverage while Jenkins will oversee photography online.

“Chris has a strong track record of editorial vision and leadership, most recently recognized with National Geographic’s four National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, Photography, Best Tablet Magazine and Best Multimedia Feature. Bringing in talent of the caliber of Matt Mansfield, Keith Jenkins and Mike Schmidt, and enlarging Sarah Leen’s role, will allow Chris and his team to accelerate our move into a continuous, dynamic publishing model that provides a stream of rich digital products and allows us to truly innovate in the space,” said Moore.

Matt Mansfield comes from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he was director and bureau chief for the school’s reporting program in Washington, D.C., as well as an associate professor. Prior to joining Medill, he was deputy managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News. He is a founding partner of MG Redesign, a custom design and training firm. In 2012, Mansfield was the design director for Bloomberg Insider, a daily glossy launched to showcase Bloomberg LP’s reporting and analysis from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He has served as president of the international Society for News Design and is one of the Washington-based organizers for the Online News Association. In his new role as executive editor, digital content, Mansfield will oversee National Geographic’s editorial content across the Web, mobile and non-magazine apps. He will be responsible for the editorial experience on digital platforms, shaping content initiatives that complement the Society’s membership acquisition strategies and supervising National Geographic’s daily news team, short-form video production group and a team of producers creating online content for the Society’s Mission Programs division, which manages the Society’s field researchers and explorers.

Keith Jenkins leaves his position as supervising senior producer for multimedia at NPR to join National Geographic. As a director of photography, he will oversee the Society’s online photographic presence and staff. Prior to joining NPR, Jenkins spent 13 years at The Washington Post as staff photographer, photography editor of, photography editor of The Washington Post Magazine and deputy assistant managing editor of photography. Jenkins was AOL’s first director of photography and also previously worked as a staff photographer at the Boston Globe. Jenkins is charged with setting the tone, editorial direction and overall strategy for National Geographic’s global leadership in digital photography, overseeing all photographic work for the website, including the Society’s photographic community, Your Shot, and blogs. Jenkins also will focus on expanding multimedia storytelling through short-form video and audio.

Sarah Leen will focus on maintaining the high photographic standards of the magazine in both print and its digital versions in her role as a director of photography. She will manage the magazine’s photo editing staff and will be the primary liaison for the magazine’s contributing photographers. She also will oversee the photographic development of stories for print and digital versions of the magazine. Leen has been a senior photo editor at National Geographic since December 2004 and was named senior editor for visual story development in late 2012. Prior to joining the staff, Leen spent nearly 20 years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic magazine. She previously was a staff photographer at The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Mike Schmidt as multimedia director will be responsible for setting the tone, editorial direction and overall strategy for short-form video, motion graphics and other multimedia on Schmidt has created short documentaries, websites, motion graphic and animated videos, and was director and senior producer of the television series “Hip-Hop Nation.” His multimedia design work includes infographics for The New York Times’ coverage of the 2008 and 2010 Olympics. He has had a thriving freelance career and most recently was on staff as associate creative director at the iPad news publication, The Daily. As an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he led team projects in the creation of interactive documentary productions. Schmidt will work closely with National Geographic’s digital creative director to create multimedia packages for daily news stories, special projects, National Geographic magazine and the Society’s travel group and membership initiatives.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Its mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. Founded in 1888, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 450 million people worldwide each month through National Geographic and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit

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