It would be a stretch to call this debate a real controversy, as it is still mostly confined to environmental groups. Nonetheless, though the concerns of the news industry are currently focused less on sustainability than on staving off bankruptcy, changes will likely come soon.
As the Mother Jones article points out, Murdoch and News Corp. are ahead of the game. The Securities and Exchange Commission now requires full disclosure of carbon emissions from publicly traded companies, the EPA is still set begin regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and pending (though recently imperiled)legislation in the Senate would further control carbon emissions.
These measures are unlikely to affect the media industry as much as they will the transportation and utilities industries. Nonetheless, the sustainability efforts of companies like News Corp. and other large media conglomerates will likely indicate where gains in efficiency can best be made. Is cloud computing the answer? Will print circulation shrink even faster as companies cut carbon? Will print see a resurgence, if paper is heralded as the most environmentally responsible medium for news? More data and experience is surely needed, but it’s time for news outlets to start asking these questions.