In November 2017, several women at National Geographic pressured the magazine’s human resources department to investigate Patrick Witty, then deputy director of photography, for allegedly abusing his power in the industry for years to get away with predatory sexual behavior toward female colleagues, freelance photographers, and peers in the field.
But human resources had already launched an investigation in mid-October, according to a source at National Geographic familiar with the internal review. The investigation was prompted by the inclusion of Witty in the “Shitty Media Men” list, an anonymously sourced spreadsheet of men in the industry rumored to have engaged in inappropriate behavior.
Then in December 2017, Witty, abruptly stopped working at the magazine.
Management did not give employees a specific reason for his departure.
Leaders at National Geographic told employees in small groups that Witty — a prominent photojournalist with such premier outlets as the New York Times (he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer in 2009), Time, and Wired on his résumé — “was no longer an employee at the company,” several people who attended these meetings said.
In a farewell post on Instagram, Witty cheered his colleagues and noted that he was “excited for [his] next chapter.”
In a statement, National Geographic told me, “Mr. Witty is no longer employed by National Geographic Partners. The questions and concerns raised by women inside and outside of our company about Mr. Witty’s behavior were investigated thoroughly by our Human Resources team.”