This is the story of how I ‘infiltrated’ the mainstream media and try to make them more green from within. I’m not a spy or anything. I started out as every other news editor, but the difference is that a while ago I started giving a fuck. And I’ll tell you what I did about it and what you can do to be more green too.
Journalists are cynical bastards, here’s why
But first I’ll give you a little glimpse into the world of news agencies like the one I work for, currently as a business news editor. We basically cover all general topics very fast. The idea is that not all of the media want to waste precious resources covering the exact same story, so they pay us to write those stories in a more or less generic way for them to use.
It’s not uncommon for someone at a news agency to write about more than 10 topics per day. I’ve written about all sorts of (often awful) subjects from wars, to politics to Britney Spears. This high pressure tends to make you, erm, less sensitive. Most journalist are great at cracking cynical jokes as a coping mechanism.
Becoming Mr. Greens in a grey world
Seeds of positivity do not grow out to be inspiring stories at news agencies. It’s just the facts, nothing more. Being facts-focused is good (especially in this day and age) but some things are harder to quantify than others. That’s why it’s easier to write about a company’s financial results than its sustainability goals. Everybody understands the value of money, but most people don’t understand CO2-equivalents.
1. You don’t have to be the boss to be a leader
The first way I try to inspire my colleagues to be more green is by writing a bit more about sustainability, innovation and the environment than they normally would. I fully believe in setting an example. If I write about what company X does to reduce its emissions it will be easier for my colleagues to write about it next time. Another advantage is that we check each other’s articles so basically I’m forcing them to read more about green topics.
2. Answer questions, even the stupid ones
The second thing I do is being thick skinned and well prepared for questions. Every time someone asks me something, it is an opportunity to talk about things that matter. It’s an opportunity to influence people who reach millions of people with their writings.
And trust me, if you put a vegan in a macho news environment, there will be questions. Most of the times they’re just trying to be funny. Sometimes they’re sincerely interested.
‘What’s wrong with drinking milk?’
‘You want to write about Tesla?’
‘We’re gonna grab get drinks, you DO drink beer right?’
I can tell them about how the dairy industry contributes to climate change and how terribly the animals are being treated. I can tell them about how Tesla may still yet be relatively small but how it might and probably will change the world. And I can tell them that fortunately most beers are vegan, and make them aware that there are beers out there with pork in them, yuck!
It’s starting to work
This week I asked some questions about health and sustainability in a press conference. Two other journalists followed the example. The company’s press officer told me she was positively surprised, because normally nobody reads the sustainability paragraph in their press releases. Some time before that, my colleagues told me they were willing to give the vegan dishes in a restaurant a try when we were grabbing a bite to eat.
I’m happy for all the little steps people are willing to make. Inspiring people to change their ways takes time. What (little) things do you do to inspire people?