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BP Op-Ed: Gulf Impacts Not So Bad!

jennifer boynton headshotWords by Jen Boynton
Leadership & Transparency
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BP is in hot water for an "op/ed" it published on Politico from senior vice president of U.S. communications and external affairs, Geoff Morrell.

Unsurprisingly, his position is that the long term impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill weren't so bad, and the company's $27B dollars in cleanup were sufficient to offset any long term impacts.

The LA Times does a great job outlining all the impacts Morrell missed:

The answer, if you study the findings of experts, is that the spill has had massive impacts. These include immediate effects on sea fowl, marine mammals, and coral; and long-term effects on dolphins, sea turtles, fish and wildlife populations, and the gulf food web. Moreover, many effects are still imponderable at this time, because no one has studied an oil spill of this magnitude in a unique ecosystem such as the gulf. Assessing the damage may take decades, covering generations of animals.

As for why Politico would publish such a thing? Internet sleuths are blaming that on the fact that BP has been a frequent advertiser on Politico's Playbook, a daily briefing on DC's big stories of the day.

The op-ed was not marked as sponsored content, but one wonders if it was published thanks to a health dose of quid pro quo.

Not one to shrink down from a good old fashioned brouhaha, BP has responded to the kerfuffle by issuing a statement. Here it is in its entirety:

This is an opinion piece submitted by BP to an influential newspaper to counter several op-eds about the Gulf that previously were published in this and other media outlets. It’s no different than any other op-ed by any other company in any other publication.

So juicy. A company we love to hate gets (free) native advertising to tout itself.

I'd be remiss in calling out another publication for quid pro quo if I didn't mention our own stance on op-eds and sponsored content.

The issue of editorial independence is front of mind for me, as TriplePundit keeps the lights on these days thanks in part to generous sponsors who underwrite many of our series. Of course, our editorial is completely independent and these series are clearly labelled. Thanks to the support of sponsors, we're able to improve the quality of our journalism because we have more money in the bank to give writers. You can read our editorial policy on sponsored content here.

Thus far, we've been lucky to have sponsors we believe are true leaders in the sustainable business space. They are only interested in working with TriplePundit because they recognize and value our editorial independence and coverage of  sustainable business. We are choosy about who we accept as sponsors because we realize that if we get loosey goosey with who we work with, that will hurt our brand.

Does this latest splish splash hurt Politico? Well, it's certainly been good for their traffic numbers. They've already chosen to work with BP as sponsors, so they must not think they're a totally bad company. BP wouldn't be a good fit to sponsor 3p, but we're a different organization. Maybe it's a net positive for Politico from their point of view.

At TriplePundit, we do our best to be completely transparent about these things and I know we might not always hit the mark. Please do call me out (jen@triplepundit.com) if you think we've crossed the line.

In the mean time, go give BP some s**t for their bad behavior.

Image credit: Deepwater Horizon Response, Flickr

Jen Boynton headshotJen Boynton

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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