B Lab launches media division

Oregon has more B-Corps than any other state in the country.

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According to a press release I received yesterday, B Lab (incubator of the B Corps movement) is launching a new media division, B the Change Media, to include a print magazine and multi-media channels.

From the release:

“A robust multi-media platform is as necessary to achieve our collective vision as the passage of benefit corporation legislation. Just as we need legal frameworks that help us align the interests of business with those of society, we need consistent compelling storytelling to inspire millions of people to use business as a force for good. We can’t wait to see how B the Change Media brings that vision to life.”

B the Change reflects the mainstreaming of social entrepreneurship, a business trend that arguably started decades ago with the sustainability movement. 

The new initiative also fits into larger trends in the media business. Along side legacy journalism organizations (like Oregon Business), companies and nonprofits are creating their own content and pushing it out to readers and consumers through expansive social media channels.

Like B the Change, these hybrid news/advertising vehicles make liberal use of the word “storytelling” as a way to describe the content they are producing. Like B the Change, these hybrid entities have advocacy and promotion at the heart of their mission. “Business as a force for good.”

One of the best examples of the storytelling model in Oregon is Built Oregon, a startup that launched a couple of years ago aimed at promoting entrepreneurship by producing glossy profiles of Oregon’s startup CEOs.  Of course, storytelling brands struggle like any other startup. Built Oregon is now moving to a nonprofit model, according to cofounder Terry St. Marie.

Are storytelling outfits journalism in the conventional sense?  No. Do they lack bias and operate independently of the subjects they cover? No. But as a business journalist, I view B the Change as another sign the private sector is expanding its purview to include social and cultural benchmarks alongside traditional economic indicators.  It’s a shift that at the very least merits ongoing coverage — and perhaps a few discreet plaudits along the way.