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What Is Sustainable Journalism?

Integrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Challenges of Journalism

Peter Berglez, Ulrika Olausson and Mart Ots

This edited volume, which elaborates on the idea and concept of sustainable journalism, is the result of a perceived lack of integral research approaches to journalism and sustainable development. Thirty years ago, in 1987, the Brundtland Report pointed out economic growth, social equality and environmental protection as the three main pillars of a sustainable development. These pillars are intertwined, interdependent, and need to be reconciled. However, usually, scholars interested in the business crisis of the media industry tend to leave the social and environmental dimensions of journalism aside, and vice versa. What Is Sustainable Journalism? is the first book that discusses and examines the economic, social and environmental challenges of professional journalism simultaneously. This unique book and fresh contribution to the discussion of the future of journalism assembles international expertise in all three fields, arguing for the necessity of integral research perspectives and for sustainable journalism as the key to long-term survival of professional journalism. The book is relevant for scholars and master’s students in media economy, media and communication, and environmental communication.


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Part One: Environment in Focus


Environment in Focus p a r t o n e i n t r o d u c t i o n In this chapter I will explore some of the cultural obstacles that stand in the way of more sustainable forms of journalism. I use the phrase ‘sustainable journalism’ in two senses: to refer to journalism about environmental and economic sustainability, and journalism that produces information that is useful and enduring rather than transitory. There is a third interpretation of the phrase, one that has become more crit- ical as the business model for certain kinds of journalism—especially at the local level—is under increasing pressure, making many forms of journalism appear eco- nomically unsustainable (McChesney and Nichols 2010). While this is not the focus of this chapter, I will pick up on the consequences of this aspect of sustain- ability in my conclusion. In a world characterised by rapacious economic and cultural systems, there is a pressing need for sustainable journalism. The sustained global effort to focus on the production and consumption of goods over the last 50 years has, on its own terms, been extraordinarily successful. We have seen a proliferation of commod- ities on an unprecedented scale (Lewis 2013). In wealthier countries, whenever our capacity to consume appears to be reaching saturation point, we are presented with a new range of gadgets, devices, fashions and technologies to replace what we already have. This proliferation in production, consumption and waste has led to a series of...

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