Last March, The New York Times killed its Green blog and disassembled its environment desk, distributing the staff into other units. Jayni Hein noted the possible concern that this change might result in diminished resources for environmental coverage at the Times; she also noted the positive spin that some Times people put on the change, that it would “mainstream” environmental coverage into the Times overall news reporting.
The Times public editor has done a follow-up on the impacts of the changes on the paper’s environmental coverage, and the report indicates that the pessimists appear to have been more correct than the optimists: A review found that the quantity of climate change coverage in the paper declined; “the amount of deep, enterprising coverage of climate change in the Times appears to have dropped, too”; no major investigative series on the environment have been published in the Times since January 2013; and no replacement for the Green blog has been created at the paper.
These results are disturbing and distressing. Press coverage of environmental issues is a vital component of informed decisionmaking by policymakers and informed voting and activism by citizens. This is particularly true in an area as complex as the environment. I hope that the Times reconsiders its failed reorganizational efforts and reestablishes a primary center and voice for environmental coverage.
Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.