National Geographic on Monday said it was changing its prevailing tradition of stereotyping people of color, while admitting that from the beginning the magazine had enforced a skewed perception of black and brown people, by rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers and domestic workers.
Goldberg said she is doing just that, adding that in the past, the magazine has done a better job at gender diversity than racial and ethnic diversity.
The April issue of National Geographic "explores how race defines, separates, and unites us".
Asked to examine its coverage, University of Virginia associate professor John Edwin Mason said National Geographic had served only to reinforce racist attitudes in a magazine with "tremendous authority".
National Geographic first published its magazine in 1888.
In addition, National Geographic perpetuated the cliche of native people fascinated by technology and overloaded the magazine with pictures of attractive Pacific island women.
Mason also found problems with some of what was not covered in the magazine. So the war and civil conflicts in other countries went unnoticed, he said.
"It's not a ideal article, but it acknowledges the oppression", Mr Mason wrote.
For example, in a 1916 article about Australia, the caption on a photo of two Aboriginal people read: "South Australian Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings". "There are no voices of black South Africans".
HIV-positive Nozamile Ndarah (23) and two of her four HIV-negative children enjoy seeing their picture in National Geographic magazine.
"The photography, like the articles, didn't simply emphasize difference, but made difference. very exotic, very odd, and put difference into a hierarchy", Mason told NPR. "And black and brown people were somewhere underneath".
The April issue of the magazine will be dedicated to race to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed on April 4.
"The coverage wasn't right before because it was told from an elite, white American point of view, and I think it speaks to exactly why we needed a diversity of storytellers", Goldberg said.
"It's also a conversation that is changing in real time: In two years, for the first time in United States history, less than half the children in the nation will be white", she wrote.