April 21, 2010 / by Lauren Bigge

American media outlets go green for Earth Day

American media outlets go green for Earth Day

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and living green has never been trendier than it is right now. Environmentally friendly practices like recycling and water conservation have even spread into the social conscience at high-profile media organizations.

In 2007, NBC launched Green is Universal, an initiative that debuted with a week of green-themed programming and has since been dedicated to bringing an environmental perspective to all NBC-owned networks, platforms, audiences and communities. Since then, the network focuses on going green two weeks a year through programming and volunteer events in several cities. In August 2009, the network’s environmental efforts gained momentum with the introduction of a 70-page step-by-step manual on how to start green practices on set.

“These guides provide tips and information on how to have anything from locally sourced produce for catering to biodegradable utensils to using hybrid vehicles to sourcing re-used or re-purposed proper set materials,” said Meredith Feiner, spokeswoman for NBC Universal (NBCU) in New York. By providing newsroom personnel with non-disposable mugs and water bottles and using light-emitting diode lighting, “Nightly News with Brian Williams” is an example of an NBC program that promotes green practices.

In late 2009, NBCU hired Shannon Schaefer to oversee sustainable productions in its Los Angeles lot. She works with production managers in an ongoing effort to keep NBCU green. In honor of Earth Day, NBCU will air programs on sustainability while employees are provided opportunities to participate in green activities all weeklong.

NBC11 in San Jose, Calif., became a wind-powered television station in 2008, and WNBC News in New York reduced its energy consumption by 80 percent when it relocated to a single-story 2,000 square foot studio. Compact fluorescent lights, light-emitting diode products, and audio consoles previously used by MSNBC were installed in the new studio.

In efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, the National Geographic Society is planning to purchase wind power for its Washington, D.C. offices, spokeswoman Barbara Moffett said in an e-mail interview. They also plan to reduce energy and water usage at all other North American offices, she noted.

National Geographic Magazine also publishes TheGreenGuide.com, which includes topics on sustainable travel, personal care, and home and garden. Employee resources include the company’s in-network Green Page, which offers weekly tips and news, and explains what is recyclable at National Geographic and where to go for alternative commuting resources.

Concern over environmental issues sparked eco-conscious decision making elsewhere as well. News Corporation executives set a goal to become carbon neutral by December 2010; its global energy initiative started all News Corp. businesses on the going green path in 2007. The businesses are expected to reduce their internal energy usage and utilize renewable energy, and the chief executive officer of each business has appointed an energy team leader. About 10 energy leaders at News Corp. businesses within the United States and Canada are working toward the carbon neutrality goal.

College media has also embraced eco-friendly practices. Featuring the TuftsPrintsGreen logo, Tufts University’s magazines are printed on recycled paper stock. The Shorthorn, the University of Texas’ newspaper, is produced using recycled paper and soy-based inks. In an effort to go green, The University of Iowa’s College of Education offers readers the option of having its publications delivered electronically. The University of Maryland Baltimore County began printing its magazine on 30 percent Rolland Opaque30 recycled paper in 2009.

The modern environmental movement in the United States began with a grassroots demonstration called Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Now, 40 years later, the green commitment media organizations have made shows that environmental concerns are not limited to April 22. In the natural evolution, print media’s decline could be considered eco-friendly as more publications go online and less paper is used. “You’re chopping all these trees down and making paper out of them and trying to deal with all the waste paper,” media mogul Ted Turner told the Hollywood Reporter in October. “It’s the biggest solid waste problem that we have.” With the tide turning towards mostly digital publishing, in a few years it could soon be a problem of the past.

–Lauren Bigge

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