Every magazine is addressed to a readership for whom what the magazine presents as attained is in truth aspirational: Seventeen is read by twelve-year-olds, and no playboy has ever read Playboy. The explicit goal of the National Geographic Society, and of its house journal, was to show the world to the worldly, to enlarge the map, to support exploration with grants and medals. But the real task of National Geographic was to show white people who rarely got far from Cincinnati or San Francisco what lay beyond their ken.

Adam Gopnik, “Yellow Fever”, The New Yorker (22 April 2013), 104.