‘Green’, ‘Carbon Footprint’ Make Banished Word List

It’s official… sort of. According to the 34th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness just released by Lake Superior State University, “green” and “going green” topped the most villainous terms of 2008 (other green themed expressions submitted included “building green”, “greening”, “green technology” and “green solutions”). Close behind was “carbon footprint” and “carbon offsetting”. The survey certainly isn’t the most scientific, but it was based on thousands of nominations from all over the country. Makes me wonder if the organizers of the “Green Inaugural Ball” taking place on the eve of the Obama presidency have time to make a name change. Perhaps they could call it the “Gangrene Inaugural Ball”? Also makes me wonder if media that have embraced green in their branding – i.e. GreenBiz, New York Times’ Green Inc.Greentech MediaGreenbang, Always On Going GreenFortune Brainstorm: GREEN, etc – need a rethink as well. My favorite pull-quote from the LSSU survey came from a man in Bristow, VA:

“If I see one more corporation declare itself ‘green’, I’m going to start burning tires in my backyard”. – Ed Hardiman

Fair warning. But Ed, make sure it’s a green tire.

Special Green Issues Endangered

MediaWeek reported this week that interest from media properties to put out stand-alone green issues is waning in the current economy. So far the list of titles to do away with green issues in 2009 includes Domino, Discover, Sunset and Outside, according to the article. But the sub-text of the story, for me at least, is less about the economic factors involved behind the decision, and more about the growing sense that green no longer needs its own bully pulpit. Beth Brenner, an executive at Discover, is quoted as saying that advertisers don’t need a green-themed issue to tell their story, noting: ““They’ve made it a part of their everyday messaging.”  Which takes me back to a post I made in May of this year about theDiscoloration of Green. It makes the case for an end to green as a separate topic, and for the start of green as an integrated thread woven throughout the fabric of business and policy.

Cleantech Media Shift Continues

CNN and Fortune’s loss is the blogosphere’s gain. Recent news that CNN let go of Miles O’Brien and Peter Dykstra and did away with its environmental/science core production unit, as well as Sam Whitmore’s report that Fortune laid off two cleantech mainstays (and accomplished bloggers) - Todd Woody and Marc Gunther - is just another sign of the times: Mainstream Journalism 0, New Journalism 42. If true, I’m bummed for my friends who lost their jobs, but I’m also very excited for them (as a former foreign correspondent and blogger myself) because these are exciting times. We are on the cusp of the creation of a new media world that is the intersection of industry expertise, technology know-how and changing news consumption habits. Declining audience for traditional media is inversely proportional to increasing audience for new media like blogs, video and aggregator sites. Whoever you believe, the numbers are there to back it up – eMarketer says 94.1 million blog readers in 2007, comScore says total Internet audience of 188.9 million or Universal McCann, which says 346 million worldwide read blogs (60.3 million in the US). No doubt blog-savvy folks likeAndrew Revkin (NYT DotEarth) and Jeff Ball and Keith Johnson (Economic Capital at WSJ) will continue to thrive (well, almost no doubt). Its clear that mainstream media is trying to shift to meet the challenge. John Byrne of Businessweek wrote on Twitter this week that Businessweek.com had 722,567 video streams in November, up 370% from the same month in 2007. That’s good news. But even if they aren’t successful, others that are more nimble and able to get their minds around the dynamics of social media (think Greener World Media Greentech Media and Earth2Tech) should be able to fill the void being created by the retrenchment at traditional media. And at the end of the day, Gunther and Woody still have their own brands that they created through their own blogs, and their survival is not dependent on a bloated mother ship.