The Evening Chronicle's Go Green campaign goes from strength to strength. Mark Hargreaves reports
JUDGES at the 2008 Newspaper Awards liked what they saw when they were presented with the Go Green – think global, act local – campaign from the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle.
“An excellent initiative by a regional newspaper which included involving the local community, through its editorial columns, to improve the environment. A clear shift from what we have to do, to what we need to do,” they said about the environmental newspaper company of the year winning entry.
In the subsequent three years since winning the environmental newspaper plaudit, the Chronicle has not rested on its laurels and has continued to build on the campaign with a wealth of new initiatives and extensive coverage across its pages.
Editor Paul Robertson says: “The original aims behind the initiative remain the same today – to help, enable and inspire people to take action on local issues which will, in turn, impact on the national and international scene.
“That may be an ambitious aspiration, but there have been consistent examples of people who are making a real difference and influencing others at the same time.
“The drive to make the North East a more sustainable and pleasant place to live continues and inside our newspaper and supplements we highlight excellent examples of groups and individuals taking positive action towards achieving this.
“Protecting the environment has always been high on my agenda and I’ve been ably helped at the newspaper by our own eco-warrior, Amy Hunt.”
One of the keys to the success of the Go Green campaign has been the Chronicle’s strong links to local businesses. Companies and organisations like Southern Electric, Equinox Energy,Newcastle City Council and Nexus have sponsored various events, and activities such as environment volunteer days, and work closely with the newspaper to ensure the prolonged success of the Go Green campaign.
“Our partners in the campaign continue to champion the cause of working in a greener way and promoting this to the public in an engaging and energetic way,” adds Robertson.
One of the major initiatives saw the launch of the Environment Awards, in association with Scottish and Southern Energy, and which last month celebrated their fourth prize giving ceremony. Since their launch, the Environment Awards have built steadily and this year they received more than 100 entries across many categories such as Sustainable School Award, Community Group Award and Environmental Individual Award. Entries come for all sorts of different projects from schools, businesses, community groups and individuals.
This year’s awards were hosted by BBC Look North’s weather presenter Trai Anfield. There were 16 finalists and six awards handed out at the ceremony. Overall winners were the staff and students from King Edward VI School in Northumberland.
“We launched the awards as part of the overall Go Green campaign to raise awareness of environmental issues and to really stimulate the debate as to how small changes could save money as well as make difference to our carbon footprint,” says Robertson.
Other Go Green projects that have been promoted successfully by the Chronicle include leave your car at home days, run in partnership with the local Metro light rail system, which saw a significant increase in passengers on the metro and many children walking to school or using bikes; car sharing; litter picks; river clean-ups and red squirrel counts.
Another recent initiative saw the climate change Minister Joan Ruddock taking part in a live webchat. She was put on the spot not only about national issues such as what she has done to reduce global warming but also local issues such as whether the second Tyne Tunnel will help the environment.
Robertson firmly believes that regional newspapers have got an extremely important role to play in the community and that campaigns like Go Green involves readers in helping to make a difference and actively participate in a campaign which is wide ranging and touches many lives.
He says: “Together we can show how we can all make a difference to benefit future generations and ensure our great region plays a leading role in promoting and protecting the environment.”