The media

hether it is though using technology, sending reporters across the world to cover breaking news or operating numerous buildings in different countries, the media industry is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

As the digital ecosystem has expanded, the way we consume media has changed dramatically. Through smart devices, people can access the day’s news, tune in to their favourite shows and watch movies at the touch of a fingertip. According to Andrew Rogoyski, innovation director at Roke Manor Research, technology has a big part to play in the consumption of energy in the media industry. “The shift to digital and the use of mobile and cloud technologies are core to today’s media platforms, especially with the transformative impact of social media. Unfortunately, the demand for energy – the most obvious side-effect of our insatiable desire to consume more and more digital content – is rising year on year. Similarly, the demand for computer devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets,” he explains. Rogoyski says that as computer use shifts to the cloud and

mobile devices, our total energy consumed may eventually drop or become more efficient. He adds: “The cloud providers are acutely aware of the energy cost of their data centres, resulting in countries like Iceland becoming data centre focal points because they provide geothermal energy and cheap natural cooling.” However, he says, technological developments such as 5G,

artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will increase the need for computer power and communications infrastructure. A survey of 200 editors, chief executives and digital leaders by the Reuters Institute found that 78 per cent of them believed it was important to invest in AI to ‘help secure the future of journalism’.

12 | theJournalist

“In the race to provide more compelling content for consumers, the media industry will continue to drive demand for energy and for technology products because of these developments,” says Rogoyski. He says more companies are becoming aware of the issues of sustainability as energy and technology costs hit bottom lines and as brand reputations start to reflect environmental standpoints. “Understanding the technology platforms they depend upon, from AI to mobile, today and in the future, is becoming an essential part of everyone’s strategic business planning, no more so than in the media industry,” he says. Of course, technology is not the only contributor to climate

climate W

Media bodies can cut their carbon footprint in several ways, says Nicholas Fearn

change made by the media industry. James Longley, managing director of B2B energy specialists Utility Bidder, says: “There’s a real issue with news corporations in general. With so much international travel and multiple offices across the world, the idea of a carbon footprint being reduced is a tough one to crack. “Where a news corporation can crack this is sourcing reporters closer to the action, rather than sending correspondents whenever they have the opportunity. In businesses where air travel is an element of the day-to-day, this can be a real killer. More than 50 per cent of a company’s carbon footprint can be burned up with air travel so anything that can be done to reduce this is welcome news.” Change is now happening. Longley says: “In the wake of the issues surrounding climate change in recent years and a turn in the corporate world towards sustainability, it is interesting to see the media taking this seriously. There are many ways in which the media can start to make changes,” he says. “The biggest we would suggest is culture. If each and every strand of the often extended supply chain can be made carbon neutral or at least reduced then, overall, the industry will have a better reputation and will perform better.” Changing production methods and investing in sustainable forms of energy can also reduce environmental impact, he

Even emails harm the environment

MORE than 300 billion emails are sent globally every day. Journalists particularly rely on emails as a primary form of communication.. Although emails seem harmless, they actually contribute greatly to the climate crisis. Writing in How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, Mike Berners- Lee claims that spam emails contain 0.3g of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), standard emails contain 4g and emails with multiple attachments contain 50g.

Vaughan Lindsay, CEO of ClimateCare, says: “In our rush to stream films, send emails, store data and update our social media posts, we’ve lost sight of how energy- hungry the digital industry really is. We need to

understand that the internet and digital technology involves far more than just the energy required to run our devices. Rather, the storing of data, otherwise known to us all as the cloud, is one of the worst offenders. Far from being invisible, the cloud and the technical components to run it

generate extremely high emissions.” He explains that the communications and technology industry produces over 830 million tons of carbon annually. He tells The Journalist: “This means that the energy used in our digital consumption collectively emits the equivalent amount of carbon as the entire airline industry. “Businesses need to take

responsibility for their entire carbon footprint in order to achieve a net zero position. This involves everything from business travel, energy use at the office and even their digital footprint. Anything less than that is not a responsible position for a business today.”

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