MEDIA: GREEN MAGAZINES: Calling on the conscientious reader - A Management Consultancies Association report shows that more consumers are developing a conscience, opening up opportunities for green media

The UK media is a fickle body. In 1989, the country’s mainstream media suddenly discovered the environment, in much the same way as four years later it discovered the internet. Streams of stories on global warming, the ozone layer and CFCs cascaded from the front pages and, for a few brief months, green was the colour.

The UK media is a fickle body. In 1989, the country’s mainstream

media suddenly discovered the environment, in much the same way as four

years later it discovered the internet. Streams of stories on global

warming, the ozone layer and CFCs cascaded from the front pages and, for

a few brief months, green was the colour.



Then, in 1990, the stories seemed to dry up. The odd science or society

section still ran a few features here and there but, broadly speaking,

the issue left the front pages and, as far as most broadsheet or

television news programme editors were concerned, left the public agenda

unless a few environmental activists protested in a corn field.



At the same time that the boom approaches, this sector is facing its own

internal changes. Whereas in the 1970s and 1980s the environmental

publishing industry tended to be little more than a propaganda tool for

the various green organisations such as Friends of the Earth and

Greenpeace, the influx of concerned consumers who don’t have a history

in activism has meant that new approaches have started to thrive in the

sector. Magazines like Green Future and the Environment Business

magazine have steered clear of the traditional scaremongering needed to

prompt protest and have offered instead lifestyle suggestions for

consumers and companies. Indeed, at least one major publishing company

is understood to be considering its own launch into this traditionally

cottage-run sector, proof that it is gaining credence with an

increasingly aware public.



’Food stories make the nationals quite often,’ says Jeanette Riley,

issues PR manager for supermarket chain Iceland. ’The Express and the

Daily Mail are both very keen on food stories at the moment. Our Food

You Can Trust campaigning was very well received. The other area we talk

to is the green press, magazines such as Green Futures, with whom we

have an excellent relationship.’



The pressure group titles are a small but vocal section of the

media.



Usually backed by a pressure group and, rarely a conventional newsstand

title, they often rely on subscriptions for much of their

circulation.



Given the cost of ABC membership, they are also often unaudited,

although the recent surge of interest in the titles means that Green

Futures and the Ecologist are both in the process of applying for ABC

certificates.



Both titles admit they continually need new subscribers, so the new-look

green consumer is a boon.





GREEN FUTURES



Martin Wright



Position: Editor



Circulation: 12,000 (unaudited)



Frequency: monthly



’Green Futures was set up by Jonathan Porritt on certain principles and

in order to promote sustainable futures. It seemed to us that people

wouldn’t respond positively to a Green movement which only preached

catastrophe, so we wanted a magazine that was about environmental

solutions not environmental problems.



People are fed up with being made to feel guilty about things - driving

their car, going to the supermarket and so on. Most people on the way to

the supermarket don’t think, ’oh, I’d better make sure that my consumer

behaviour doesn’t damage the planet.’ They think ’I wish my shopping

bill was cheaper.’ You’re only going to get most people fired up to act

in ways that are more environmentally responsible by persuading them

that it’s in their own interests - and not in the long-term interests of

their grandchildren.



’It’s about increasing people’s enjoyment of life, rather than putting

them under the cosh. Thus we show how people can save money, and lots of

money, by taking simple environmentally friendly measures in the home,

in the car and in the office. We get a very good response from business,

which in many ways is ahead of the Government in its greenness. Britain

could be a world beater in renewable technologies. Most of the advances

in areas such as wind and solar power come from here.



’Obviously the planet is in very grave danger, and we are already seeing

the effects of environmental devastation on developing countries. We

just hope people can change their behaviour themselves.



’As a magazine, we go out to opinion formers, by which I mean MPs, MEPs,

and business leaders. In a survey, most readers told us that five people

read their copy, giving us a readership of around 60,000. They say the

magazine is very helpful. We’re always looking for more examples though,

so the PR industry should contact us on post@greenfutures. org.uk if

they’ve got anything they think we should look at. There is a tendency

for some environmentalists to get very worthy and seem to be all about

no money, no sex and no fun. We’re in favour of all three.’





ECOLOGIST



Zac Goldsmith



Position: Editor



Circulation: 25,000(unaudited)



Frequency: monthly



’The Ecologist was born 30 years ago into a world that quite simply

wasn’t ready to deal with the issues we covered. Since then, we have

never veered away from the original goals of the magazine, nor have we

ever sought to compromise our message in order to attract greater

readership.



In the normal sense of the term, we are not a business. Our primary goal

is that of raising awareness about issues of fundamental importance that

affect us all. As a history of highs and lows has demonstrated, if that

has meant that our product is unsellable, then so be it.



’What has changed dramatically however is the world that paid so little

attention to its birth in 1970. More and more people are waking up, and

this has been illustrated time and again, by the public outcry over G-M

technology, over the WTO gathering in Seattle, over the mounting

evidence of the dangers of synthetic chemicals, and the massive growth

in the organic sector. Indeed, the time has never been more ripe for the

type of magazine that the Ecologist has become. From the point of view

of the magazine, this is obviously wonderful. But from the point of view

of the planet, this shift could make the difference between a life or

extinction scenario.



’To mark its 30th year, the Ecologist has undergone a dramatic

re-launch. From being a purely text-based journal, whose target audience

has traditionally been the academic, scientist and activist and whose

contributors were of similar backgrounds, we have introduced colour

illustrations throughout, new writers, and a general re-design.



’The ’new’ Ecologist while maintaining its authoritative in-depth

features and its importance to the academic and activist, is now geared

towards the general public with an interest in the issues we cover.



’Essentially, we are seeking to encourage new readers, and not

necessarily those with a deep understanding of the problems we are all

facing, to become involved in the green crusade, and to help begin the

vital process of renewal. If anyone wants to contact us, we’re on

ecologist@gn.apc.org.’



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