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Media-Makers and Sustainability

From Content to Practice: The Role of Media in Sustainability

Storytelling has been used across the ages to engage listeners with chronicles that share important messages. With the advent of modern media, stories can span the globe in a matter of minutes instead of months. From India to Latin America, content creators have been thinking strategically about their subject matter and the force of good it can be in the world. At CSCP, we’ve analysed a number of strategies for integrating SCP topics into mainstream media formats.

The use of Entertainment Education or “Edutainment”, where informative messages are incorporated into engaging content reaching media users at an emotional level, is a powerful tool. In the Netherlands the Reality-TV program “Echt Elly” has successfully reached a target group of mainstream consumers with lower income and education levels. This target group is not normally interested in sustainability issues. We put together a roadmap of instruments to promote SCP in the media —TV, radio, online— including guidelines on how policy can support these endeavours.

As a follow up, we conducted two workshops, one of them in cooperation with the Grimme-Akademie. In one of the workshops, we brought together 18 young journalism and communications students to the workshop “What to think? What to show? What to say? Media makers and sustainability”. Participants engaged in deep conversations on the products the media industry brings to market and the challenges integrating sustainability themes into their content. The students interacted with experts on different media products and explored mechanisms to support the incorporation of sustainability practices and issues into content and production processes. The group of prospective journalists called for a shift in values to promote a sustainable future as well as the creation of new narratives to convey sustainability issues to a broader audience.

The workshop culminated in the co-creation of a practical guideline for engaging media makers in thinking about how their work can communicate, engage, and inspire audiences through their sustainable lens. Download this guideline in our publications.

This project was supported by the Ministry of the Environment and Conservation, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MUNLV). The project was implemented by the CSCP, the Messagepool- Agency for Sustainable Consumption, the Institute for Communication Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the research group „Sustainable Consumption and Production” at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.