In a deja vu kind of post that I wish I didn't have to write, a source close to National Geographic's The Green Guide told me today that they believe the green publication will shut down its website by the end of February. As I mentioned in my recent post that co-broke (simultaneously with Ecorazzi) the news of Plenty Magazine's demise, The Green Guide had recently announced suspension of it's quarterly print magazine, opting for web only.
According to my source, the remaining staff of The Green Guide is likely to be let go by the end of next month. Earlier today I emailed members of the publication's staff, but I have not heard back. I left messages with National Geographic's public relations team that have not yet been returned.
I did speak with a representative of a company that does business with TGG, and they told me they "would be very surprised" if the website was ending. They told me recent interactions with the site's staff had been encouraging.
The Green Guide has a distinct history. It was first a newsletter of the nonprofit advocacy group Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet, which was founded in 1989 by Wendy Gordon and Meryl Streep. That group was shuttered in 2001, but The Green Guide lived on as an independent newsletter, thanks in large part to the efforts of Wendy Gordon (who is a Rockefeller). Just a few years ago TGG was acquired by the venerable National Geographic Society, which upgraded the print newsletter to a glossy quarterly and tried to integrate the website into it's network.
Assuming this rumor does turn out to be correct, the Green Guide will be sorely missed. The title has been a fantastic resource for consumers on everything from cosmetics to foods, transportation, appliances, and much more. TGG has been known for their serious commitment to consumer journalism, their thoroughness in digging into scientific research and digesting that into everyday language, and for their staid, non-sensationalist voice.
The news is disappointing to me on a personal level because I have written extensively for TGG over the years, and have gotten to know some of the outstanding staff. Nowhere else were my articles more closely scrutinized, fact checked, and rerouted through numerous edits and drafts. The editors challenged me more than most on every point, to make sure that the information was going to be the most complete and precise as possible. The definition of every word mattered to TGG: I could not simply write that something was "sustainable," for example. I had to specify whether it was certified organic (and if so by whom), fair trade (ditto), cradle to cradle, recycled (and if so how much was post-consumer), and so on.
TGG seemed to be positioning itself as a kind of green Consumer Reports, although with a much smaller staff and budget. Every product I mentioned I was expected to try myself, though the publication did not have benefit of laboratories.
On the other hand, sometimes it seemed that TGG might have had some trouble blending in with the rest of NG, and with cross pollinating. Also, the rigorous editorial standards and mostly serious tone might not have transferred that well to the fast-paced, shock-and-humor-driven Internet. In a space that has been crowded with light-on-their-toes blogs, it's no secret that big media properties haven't always played well online.
Of course, we could all wake up tomorrow and find out my source was wrong, and this was all a bad dream. Let's hope. But in today's meltdown-media climate, there hasn't been much good news recently. I'll keep you posted.
Let me know if you hear anything. And send me any green media (or other) tips -- you can be anonymous if you must.
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