Chris Tackett holds down the fort at the social media editor at TreeHugger, the granddaddy of the green blogosphere, a position he's held since 2008. A graduate of the William Allen White School of Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, Chris became hooked on social media while working at alt-news blog The Raw Story and later for Lawrence.com and has applied his networking skills to drive large amounts of traffic to Treehugger.
Not only does Chris know the world of social media like few others do but he's also an excellent writer who keeps a sharp eye on the world of energy, climate change, and politics. He's a self described digital nomad who is comfortable anywhere he can get a good wifi signal.
I have known Chris in a professional capacity as a green blogger for a few years and have always enjoyed his work. Like most good social media marketers he's extremely approachable and always willing to help share a good link.
Here are seven questions answered by Chris Tackett.
MNN: What's the difference between green and greener?
Chris Tackett: There are so many ways these terms are used, but I usually think of “green” as being synonymous with sustainability and therefore each step we take in that direction is greener. This is certainly less poetic than some of the other people you've profiled and I like some of their definitions more than mine, but these terms at times feel useless because of their ambiguity. I think the more important term for us to try and understand is sustainability. More and more people are waking up to the fact that sense we face serious problems, but I don't sense that we're all on the same page about what we need to be working towards.
What's wrong with green media?
See, this is why I don't like the term "green!" Way too many ways you can use it!
One problem that concerns me, not just as a member of the green media, but also as a reader and consumer of news, is the current attacks on journalism. Due to the magnitude of the climate and economic issues we're facing, now more than ever what we need is good journalism. Without it, we won't have a public informed enough to demand action from a cumbersome political system. But those that have been exposed by journalism are using their resources to confine journalism. Take for example, the five states where it may soon be illegal to photograph or video a factory farm. This is crazy and while I'm not a lawyer, seem like a clear violation of the First Amendment, but it's happening. Similar censorship happened last summer during the BP oil spill, with journalists not being allowed to report from certain beaches or do flyovers. How do we get society to become more sustainable if they aren't allowed to see the ugliness of the status quo? So this is a problem.
I also think about the disconnect between reporting and activism. We all know how to tell people about environmental news, but how do we really create change? Social media has played an instrumental role in giving people ways to engage with content, such as sharing a link on Twitter, adding a “like” or thumb on Facebook or Stumble Upon, but we have to do more in this space.
How did you become a professional blogger?
Hard work and luck, guess. I went to Kansas and majored in journalism with a focus on strategic communications. During college I spent 3 years working in advertising for the student newspaper, which solidified my interest in working for media companies. After graduating, I spent a summer working with a public affairs agency, then joined RawStory.com as an ad sales consultant and later a front page editor. Later, I spent a year and a half with The World Company in Lawrence doing ad sales and blogging for Lawrence.com. While I liked the company, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer around this time and I was ready for a change, so I took a sabbatical to stay with my parents while my Dad underwent treatment and recovered (he's fine now!). Spending hours in the car and waiting rooms bringing my Dad to and from the cancer treatment facility gave me plenty of time to think about my future and I decided I wanted to put my energy and skills towards helping the environment, which led me to TreeHugger, where I've been since early 2008. Whew!
Put your futurist hat on. What's the environmental media landscape look like in five years?
Crowded! I hate to say it, but I've become a bit cynical about the likelihood of our political system being able to adequately address the many environmental crises we're facing, so I think as the environment gets worse, the need for environmental journalism and information will grow. This will lead to even bigger readership and an increase in new outlets trying to get a hold of this growing audience.
On the plus side, while I'm pessimistic about the political system's ability to address climate issues, it is inevitable that there will be many more positive developments towards sustainability in technology, design, architecture, food and fashion and everything we cover at TreeHugger, so we'll have even more exciting things to cover, as well.
I think within five years that those of us in media and social media activism will have developed more effective strategies to inspire action among our communities. I also anticipate a shift in how we report on stories, not to mention the transition that will take place on the screen as our sites adapt to fit an increasingly mobile and tablet-driven world. This is something I'm passionate about and am fortunate enough to get to work on for TreeHugger, so anyone reading this that wants to work with us on these issues should let me know on Twitter: @ChrisTackett . And since I'm making predictions, I predict TreeHugger will be leading the field in developing some of these new strategies!
Does the world need saving?
This felt like the ideal opportunity to look up a few quotes to help make my answer here sound more intelligent, so I'll answer by linking three quotes together. First, we must all accept this point from John Muir, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." This is the basis of ecology and one of my favorite writers, E.O. Wilson gives us an example of the importance of even the smallest parts of our ecosystem, saying, "If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos." This quote isn't perfect, however, because if we drive some species to extinction, we can never regenerate that exact level of biodiversity that we've experienced, so I'd conclude with this quote from René Dubos, who sais that, "Man will survive as a species for one reason: He can adapt to the destructive effects of our power-intoxicated technology and of our ungoverned population growth, to the dirt, pollution and noise of a New York or Tokyo. And that is the tragedy. It is not man the ecological crisis threatens to destroy but the quality of human life." So all that is just to say if we want to save the world we have known and pass this quality of life to future generations, which I think we all want, we have a lot of work to do.
Who is one person doing good in the world (besides yourself) who we should know about and why?
Since I am writing this on Mothers Day, I will say my mom. She teaches dance to kids, which is a great way to get kids off the couch and active to help them live healthier lives. Plus, we can always benefit from more art and music in the world, so I'm thankful she is helping to bring those things to these students and teaching them to create their own.
(Shea's note: I asked Chris to come up with and answer his own question here) What do you do when you're not working for TreeHugger?
This Spring, I've been excited about gardening. I've joined the 15th Street Community Garden in Little Rock and have somehow found myself in charge of our composting system, which has been a fun challenge. After sitting in front of a computer all day, riding my bike down to the garden and turning the compost piles with the pitch fork is a real pleasure, so that is how I like to spend an hour or two in the evening after work. On weekends, I am happiest if I'm canoeing, camping or hunting down antiques and old junk.
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