1 Business and Environment, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Marketing and Sustainability, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Environmental protection has been an issue with remarkable staying power on the public agenda in Europe and North America in the past two to three decades (Dunlap, 2002) and many companies have prospered by seizing the opportunities offered by the growing "green" market. However, now there are signs of a general "counter attack" being or-chestrated against the "greens." In this paper I survey the evidence regarding an "issue-attention" cycle (Downs, 1972) in environmental concern in Western Europe and North America and discus the role of the news media in creating the cycle. It is well documented that the mass media plays an important role in determining which issues receive high or low attention by the general public and, hence, in agenda-setting (Dearing & Rogers, 1996). Using the Danish organic food sector as an example I argue that the media's assessment of what is newsworthy not only means that "green" businesses eventually loose the current of a rising issue attention cycle. Its mere success means that stories that frame "green" businesses in a negative light have become newsworthy while positive stories have lost its newsworthiness. "Green" product failures involve a sense of drama, and misconduct in businesses with a "green" image has a taste of hypocrisy, both of which make for highly newsworthy events. Hence, despite a large and loyal customer base, many "green" companies now find themselves in a much more hostile environment than a decade ago.
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GIN2003: Innovating for Sustainability, 11th International Conference - The Greening of Industry Network, San Francisco, USA, 2003