‘Greenwashing’ or brand journalism? Report slams proposal to ‘ape’ media websites

An email from a New Jersey-based firm to Chevron mistakenly landed in a Salon reporter’s inbox. That reporter savaged the oil giant for the email.

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The company, which posted $6.2 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year, has been selling itself as an environmentally conscious outfit through its “We Agree” campaign. Salon calls it “greenwashing”—the practice of casting a company in a positive environmental light without said company’s actually changing its destructive business habits.

Salon’s Justin Elliot received one of Chevron’s confidential presentations, presumably by accident. The presentation outlines a website that New Jersey firm Social Media Today would create to help Chevron become a major voice in the future of mobility:

It pitches the oil company on a project to build an entire website that apes journalistic outlets in form and appearance but is ultimately committed to advancing Chevron’s goals. The presentation offers a window into the frontiers of greenwashing and corporate messaging on the Web.

The “Future Mobility” website would offer a forum for bloggers, Chevron execs, and reps from the National Resources Defense Council to discuss “transit issues.”

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