Will Potter

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Will Potter
Will Potter 0959.JPG
Potter at Busboys and Poets, 2013
EducationJohns Hopkins University,
UT Austin (2002)

Will Potter is an American investigative journalist and public speaker. From 2016 to 2017, he was the Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan.[1] He has written for several publications, including the Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, and Legal Affairs. In his writings, he has focused on how the "war on terrorism" affects civil liberties. He has become a leading critic of the US government's Green Scare tactics, through his website, GreenIsTheNewRed.com. He has written several articles on this topic, as well as participating in conferences and giving lectures at universities, with some of his papers used in courses. In 2006, he spoke to the U.S. Congress about his reporting on these issues, and in 2008 his article about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, was discussed in the book, Censored 2008, as one of the top 25 overlooked news stories of 2007. Potter is also a TED[2] Fellow, having given a talk about communication management units.


Potter received a master's degree in writing from the Johns Hopkins University. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 with a degree in journalism.[3][4]

Green Scare[edit]

Will Potter presentation at Green Scare Event, Wooden Shoe Books, Philadelphia

Potter sees a parallel between the branding of current activists as "terrorists", and the use of the media in sensationalizing these cases, and the persecution of leftists in the Red Scare, during the McCarthy era. According to him, the Green Scare is a new phenomenon associated with environmentalist groups that may or may not engage in illegal activities, but are disproportionately attacked by the government for extra-legal reasons. He thinks that these government tactics are a threat to civil liberties which can progressively affect more groups and individuals.[5][6][7]

He believes that labeling individuals as "terrorists" is being used as a fear tactic to discredit and suppress peaceful activists. He points out the obvious differences between what is generally accepted as terrorism and the tactics of certain activists.[8] He believes the real motivation for this "terrorist" characterization is the defense of corporate profit and control over social activism.[9][10] Potter believes that the targeting of animal rights and earth liberation movements, considered the number one domestic terrorist threat by the FBI, has nothing to do with security. He warns of repression extended to other groups protected by the First Amendment, in the future. He makes clear that he does not excuse acts considered criminal or say that they should not be prosecuted by law.[8]

In 2006, Potter spoke to Congress about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. He explained why he does not believe that pushing for a broader basis of prosecution among activists will deter the more radical fringe. He says they are motivated by ideology and not fear. Also, he called attention to the erosion of civil liberties for peaceful activists, while stressing the harm done in the name of state control and not security.[11][12]


  • Green is the New Red (City Lights, 2011) ISBN 978-0-87286-538-9


Potter has become the target of a group accusing him of defrauding the public [13] through a 2014 Kickstarter campaign. [14] The campaign raised USD 75,064 to fund a project to buy a drone to capture aerial footage of factory farms for investigative reporting on "ag-gag" laws. Potter has made numerous public statements [15] to address the delays in the project, namely an expansion of the project that include a paperback book to be released by a publisher in 2018. In March 2018 the TED organization and their legal team reviewed financial documents for the project and dismissed the fraud claims, stating publicly: “We have looked into the allegations and are satisfied that the accusations against him are unfounded. More specifically we’ve reviewed detailed records of how he has spent the money raised for this project. We are certain he has made appropriate use of the funding as he continues to carry out a challenging project, and that the finished project will meet the high standard of work for which he is known. We completely stand by Will, and he will continue to be a TED Senior Fellow."[16]


Potter appears in the 2014 documentary film Cowspiracy. He also delivers a spoken-word track about eco-terrorism called We Will Never Forget on punk band Rise Against's Record Store Day exclusive The Eco-Terrorist in Me. The record's eponymous track is said to be inspired by Potter's book Green Is the New Red.[17]


His reporting on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act has been recognized by Project Censored “for outstanding investigative journalism,” as one of the top 25 “stories that didn’t make the news in 2007". He has also received the Mark of Excellence award for feature writing, presented by the Society of Professional Journalists, and recognition from Scripps Howard, Lantern Books and the Press Club of Dallas.[18][19][20][21]


  1. ^ Will (April 13, 2016). "Big News! I'm the New Marsh Professor of Journalism at the Univ. of Michigan". Will Potter. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  2. ^ "Will Potter | Speaker | TED".
  3. ^ "Alumni Profile: Will Potter". Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin. 2011. UT degree: Journalism, 2002. Other degree(s): M.A., Johns Hopkins University
  4. ^ "Bio: Will Potter". Greenisthenewred.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  5. ^ "What is Eco-terrorism?". Greenisthenewred.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  6. ^ "Green is the new Red: An interview with journalist Will Potter". The Minnesota Independent. December 2, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  7. ^ "Boycott Feinstein". SF weekly. November 28, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Will Potter Interview : Tom Elko : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". March 10, 2001. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  9. ^ "Do you know what a CMU is?". The Huffington Post. June 26, 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Animal activists hail NYSE deal on listing". The Washington Times. January 1, 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  11. ^ Torres, Bob (2007). Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights. AK Press. ISBN 978-1-904859-67-3.
  12. ^ Phillips, Peter (2007). Censored 2008: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-07. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 978-1-58322-772-5.
  13. ^ "SHARK, Steve Hindi Respond to Will Potter Accusations". youtube.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  14. ^ "Drone on the Farm: An Aerial Exposé". Kickstarter. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  15. ^ Will Potter (June 20, 2018), Depression, Suicide, and Trolls, archived from the original on December 20, 2021, retrieved August 7, 2018
  16. ^ "In support of Senior Fellow Will Potter – TED Fellows". TED Fellows. March 30, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  17. ^ Potter, Will. Rise Against Record Store Day Release with Will Potter , Green Is the New Red, March 11, 2015
  18. ^ "Will Potter". Evil Twin Booking. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  19. ^ Davis, Kara (April 3, 2007). "The Lantern Books Blog: Interview with Will Potter, Third Place in the 2006 Lantern Books Essay Contest". Lanternbooks.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  20. ^ "Society of Professional Journalists News: SPJ announces Mark of Excellence Award winners". Spj.org. August 21, 2000. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  21. ^ "The Press Club of Dallas Announces Katie Award Winners". .prnewswire.com. June 20, 2001. Retrieved October 6, 2011.

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