Forum

profile |  register |  members |  groups |  faq |  search  login

Guardian readers' editor on aviation advertising

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Media Lens Forum Index -> Media Lens Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
David C
site administrator


Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Southampton

Post Post subject: Guardian readers' editor on aviation advertising Reply with quote

A "response" from The Guardian's readers' editor in today's paper to all those emails about climate catastrophe and promoting air offers; but manages to miss the point about advertising as a powerful news filter.

Open door
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flying in the face of the facts
The readers' editor on ... promotion, pollution and the Guardian's environment policies

Ian Mayes
Saturday January 24, 2004
The Guardian

In case you missed it, here is a letter to the editor published in the Guardian on January 13: "Headline on Thursday [January 8]: 'Global warming to kill off 1m species'; Friday: 'Top scientist attacks US over global warming'; Saturday: '2 for 1 offer on flights to US.' Joined-up thinking?"

This was one of a number of letters, some sent directly to the paper's environment correspondents, in effect accusing the paper of hypocrisy in propounding environmental concerns on one hand while promoting flights, a major pollutant, on the other.

I shall come back to that.

At the beginning of December, I devoted this column to the Guardian's first social audit, published with the title Living Our Values. The headings on the column read: "The readers' editor on ... a frank look at the Guardian's behaviour as a company: to practise or just to preach?"

More than 200 of you have written in for a free copy of the audit, which is also available on the Guardian website, at guardian.co.uk/readerseditor.

In the audit, under the heading "Environment", we quote Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth: "It is difficult to overestimate the impact of the Guardian and Observer. The Guardian is certainly considered the voice of progressive and sound environmental thinking both in the UK and in Europe. The feedback we get from the US is that its influence is growing there, too, through the Guardian's websites ...

"As a company, as opposed to a newspaper, it does not have a leadership role yet, but no media company does. The most important thing is for the Guardian to continue playing its absolutely vital role in sustaining the environmental debate, but it is also important to put sustainability into practice."

A note in the same section records that in the employee opinion survey, the results of which are quoted throughout the audit, a third of staff disagreed or disagreed strongly with the statement, "GNL [the Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited], as an organisation, has effective environmental practices."

While noting a modest reduction in the number of company cars, among other measures, it says: "Apart from cars, our main source of pollution is air travel by our staff. Last year [2002] the company spent 520,000 on flights."

One idea under discussion at the Guardian - there was a meeting on the subject on Thursday - is to seek more systematically to balance the effects of travel by Guardian staff with an equivalent investment in environmentally beneficial projects.

A precedent was set within the company through its organisation, in association with National Grid Transco, of a one-day conference on corporate social responsibility in London a year ago. The Guardian asked Future Forests (futureforests.com) to estimate the amount of greenhouse gas produced by the conference, mainly in travel - it came to 41 tonnes of carbon dioxide - and then to balance it by planting trees. They were planted in Bowden Farm Wood in north Devon.

To return to the promotional offer of two transatlantic flights for the price of one. The environment editor, and the environment and agriculture correspondent of the Guardian were among those who saw it as, to put it very mildly, completely in conflict with the Guardian's editorial policies on global warming. They could perfectly understand its conveying an impression of hypocrisy on the paper's part.

There are no figures for the recent two-for-one offer but about 6,500 readers (taking 13,000 airline seats) responded to a similar offer a year ago. No one I have spoken to in the Guardian believes the curtailment of such offers, let alone airline advertising, is a serious option.

Both the executive editor (development), who coordinated the Guardian's social audit, and the environment editor believe offsetting carbon emissions with forms of environmental compensation provides the most readily available practical measure.

The environment editor pointed out: "Several charitable trusts freely calculate the greenhouse emissions on any flight and invite people to 'offset' them by paying a bit to plant trees, for instance." The extra cost on most return flights to Europe would be about 5, on a return flight to New York 10, and to Sydney 30. Would you be prepared to pay? Should the Guardian give you the option to pay on the flights it promotes? What do you and your company do at present?

There is an air travel emissions calculator at climatecare.org. Some of the correspondents on this subject were part of a lobby prompted by Media Lens (medialens.org).

Readers may contact the office of the readers' editor by telephoning 0845 451 9589 between 11am and 5pm Monday to Friday (all calls are charged at local rate).
Mail to Readers' editor, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER.
Fax 020-7239 9997.
Email: reader@guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1130062,00.html
_________________
David Cromwell
co-editor
Media Lens
www.medialens.org
Sat Jan 24, 2004 8:15 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Media Lens Forum Index -> Media Lens Forum All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2005 phpBB Group
    printer friendly
eXTReMe Tracker