Syndicates: Eco Issues Echoed in Feature Content

By Astor, Dave | Editor & Publisher, December 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Syndicates: Eco Issues Echoed in Feature Content


Astor, Dave, Editor & Publisher


As readers become increasingly aware of global warming and other "green" topics, they're finding more syndicated content about these matters in more newspapers.

For instance, there are now more than 1,500 clients taking the free "EarthTalk" column distributed by E/The Environmental Magazine -- triple the number in late 2005, according to Doug Moss, founder/editor of the column and mag. About two-thirds of those clients are newspapers, including dailies as well as African-American, Spanish-language, and college publications.

"Interest in all things environmental is really high," said Moss, who partly attributed this to 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore's work publicizing climate change.

But Moss added that interest in various "green" topics goes back a number of years. Indeed, the Roddy Scheer-written "EarthTalk" quickly picked up more than 100 clients when E magazine began self-syndicating the weekly feature in late 2003.

Other environmental features were launched in recent months. One is the weekly "Earth-Friendly Living," which James Dulley started syndicating in mid-2007 while continuing his "Sensible Home" and "Cut Your Utility Bills" columns.

Dulley noted that the latter two features have always had environmental aspects, but he felt newspaper readers were ready for a short (250 words) column with a stronger "green" focus. "I was getting more questions from 'Sensible Home' and 'Cut Your Utility Bills' readers asking how they could live a more Earth-friendly lifestyle," said Dulley, who has syndicated via his Starcott Media Services company since 1982. "People want to do the right thing for their children."

Copley News Service Manager of Sales and Marketing Tim Cien sees "green" features as "kind of a cause" for the syndicate, whether or not they become big money-makers. "We're in a position to do something positive" by offering environmental content, he said, adding that Copley tries to practice what it preaches by recycling, turning off lights, and using promotional materials printed by a wind-powered firm.

The syndicate began distributing Shawn Dell Joyce's weekly "Sustainable Living" column in September. Cien said it's too early to tell how the feature will do, but reported that when clients buying a Copley service have been offered "Sustainable Living" free for a month, the response has been enthusiastic.

"The column is practical, not technical, and not preachy," he added.

Copley also announced a "green"-oriented "Modern Living" package this October that has sold better than the less eco-minded "Modern Living" package of the previous year.

Reprint sales of environmental-related editorial cartoons, humor cartoons, and illustrations have been good for CartoonArts International/Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate, said CAI/CWS Vice President/Editor Jens Robinson.

He added that after Al Gore won the Peace Prize in October, CAI/CWS received dozens of Gore cartoons from its global network of artists. "The cartoons are from 18 countries -- and at least another 12 countries going back to Gore's Academy Award," said Robinson, referring to the February Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth.

CAI/CWS cartoons are marketed by the New York Times Syndicate, which distributed a package soon after Gore's Nobel win that included a commentary by the former vice president and a piece about him by NYTS columnist Christopher Hitchens.

NYTS Managing Editor Michael Oricchio said the package did well, as do other NYTS offerings with "green" elements such as Nature News Service, Scientific American News Service, and National Geographic News Service, to name a few. "The environment is a growing area of interest among editors in the U.S. and around the world," Oricchio added. "And it will continue to grow."

This fall, Universal Press Syndicate and Cox News Service added "Living Green" to their lineup of CoxNet paginated pages.

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