I often wonder why I’m seeing articles touting the safety of natural gas in my favorite publications, like the Washington Post or the Axios Newsletters. One of the (many) problems of our digital age is that it is easier than ever to blur the lines between advertising and editorial. Of course, one of the joys of this age is that we are awash in information, so it is possible to be so much more exposed to news, and to learn so much more. So when I’m reading, I’m wide open. That’s what media companies are counting on—that, and the advertising revenue from anywhere they can get it.
Industry trade groups spent almost $1.4 billion on PR, advertising and communications contractors over the past decade, according to the Climate Investigations Center, almost half of which came from the American Petroleum Institute.
Lerner’s article might help clear up some of the confusion between news and greenwash—for readers. But I’m disappointed in the editors and publishers of serious media—they should do a much better job of making it clear what’s advertising, and what’s really well-investigated news. This is the kind of thing that erodes trust.
When you get right down to it, they should simply refuse to publish the kind of greenwashing that imperils the bottom line of life on our planet. Media companies stopped taking cigarette ads long ago. Time for the same approach to be applied to the fossil fuel industry.