Marek Mayer - Pioneering environmental journalist

No one in Britain knew as much about environmental affairs as the
journalist Marek Mayer, who died on 23 July, aged 52. He lived for his
work and saw his role in humble terms: informing the world about the
facts and forces shaping environmental policy.

Mayer
led the editorial team at Environmental Data Services (ENDS)n for more
than 20 years. Across a diverse readership – business, government and
NGOs – he secured a reputation for authoritative analysis. ENDS also
became essential reading for national environment correspondents.

Mayer
and his team developed a form of journalism which broke many basic
rules: layout was uninviting, news and comment were jumbled up,
articles were long and detailed. What hooked readers was the rigorous
research – talking to contacts, challenging organisations and reading,
reading, reading. Mayer made good use of EU legislation on access to
environmental information.

He stumbled into journalism in his
late 20s following a degree in environmental studies. He landed a job
at the fledgling ENDS under the editorship of John Elkington, now a
leading thinker on corporate responsibility.

Launched in 1978,
ENDS was a business newsletter ahead of its time.Originally published
by Incomes Data Services, it was aimed at companies seeking to manage
their environmental impact.

The project was a commercial flop. In 1981, resources were pared to the bone and Mayer assumed the editorship. He
and business partner Georgina McAughtry kept ENDS afloat, until
salvation arrived in the shape of a stream of green legislation and a
blossoming of the environmental sector in the 1990s.  

ENDS eventually built a 15-strong editorial team and total staff of 35.  Staff were attracted by a heady atmosphere of idealism and hard work, fuelled by Mayer’s powerful personality. But growth brought immense challenges for Mayer and McAughtry, who now jointly owned the company.

Mayer, a journalist at heart, maintained a punishing work schedule. He found it impossible to delegate. Contacts could catch him at work in the evening and knew he would find time for them and their problems. Bleary-eyed, he frequently left the office at 8am having worked all night.

Behind
the scenes, others, including director Richard Marsh, held the company
together for much of the past decade. It was Mayer’s diagnosis with
kidney cancer in 2003 which eventually triggered the decision to sell
the business – now part of the Haymarket group.

Mayer is survived by his long-standing partner, the novelist Sue Gee, and his son, Jamie.

Julian Rose, editor, The ENDS Report

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