Last week, employees of National Geographic Society were shaken when the company let them know it would be making an “announcement about employment status” the following day. Over 180 employees were laid off in a strategic cost-cutting move, according to chief executive Gary Knell, who said it was done to avoid having those assets taken over by Fox, their new partner. Some fear this is an indication of the beginning of the end for the 127-year-old nonprofit.

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The number of layoffs represents approximately nine percent of the company’s 2,000-employee staff. Among those dismissed, only four employees will lose their jobs at National Geographic magazine and its digital newsroom, according to Declan Moore, a veteran National Geographic Society executive who will become chief executive of the Fox partnership, known as National Geographic Partners. Dozens of other employees will be laid off in departments and services that Fox will provide to the partnership: legal, accounting, personnel and technology, among others. Essentially, the Fox takeover is making some administrative functions at NGS redundant, which is a common side effect of business mergers.

Related: Insiders say National Geographic will continue to operate autonomously despite new relationship with Fox

In an addition to the layoffs, an unspecified number of employees received buy-out offers and a one-week window in which to consider their options. Still, Knell insists this move is a strategic means for weathering Fox partnership. The chief exec asks people to be less critical of what happens now, and give the organization time to navigate its challenges. “If in two or three years, if we mess up the [National Geographic] brand,” Knell said, “then people will judge us. But give us a chance.”

Via Washington Post

Images via National Geographic Society