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Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Digital News Media: Ethical implications for journalists and media organisations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalDigital Journalism
Early online date8 Apr 2014
DOIs
DateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2014
DatePublished (current) - 2014

Abstract

The use of information and communication technology and the web-based products it provides is responsible for significant global energy use and consequent emissions of greenhouse gases. Media organisations acknowledge this to be a growing sustainability issue for their businesses; many are anxious to better understand how they can manage the carbon footprints of their digital services. This paper combines learning from a computer-based mathematical model of energy use in a digital product system with intelligence of the day to day activities of a global news business, Guardian News and Media Limited. It finds that: a) emissions associated with a digital news product are comparable to media activities already subject to environmental management, suggesting an issue of material importance to publishers; b) unlike physical products such as newspapers, the way energy is consumed in a digital news system is determined not just by technical decisions but also the everyday activities of journalists and the newsroom; c) interventions that could reduce such energy consumption often conflict with parallel objectives, such as editorial and commercial. We therefore contend that the environmental effects of digital media delivery have significant implications for the practice of ethical digital journalism – and hope to stimulate further debate

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