Covering Up Climate Change, Ctd

Jan 11 2013 @ 4:42pm

The NYT has announced that it is closing the Environment desk and reassigning all its reporters in the coming weeks. Katherine Bagley conveys the reasoning behind the move:

[T]he change was prompted by the shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting. When the desk was created in early 2009, the environmental beat was largely seen as “singular and isolated,” [managing news editor Dean Baquet] said. It was pre-fracking and pre-economic collapse. But today, environmental stories are “partly business, economic, national or local, among other subjects,” Baquet said. “They are more complex. We need to have people working on the different desks that can cover different parts of the story.”

Andrew Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog hosted by the NYT, believes the editors when they “insist that this move will not diminish or dilute the paper’s commitment to sustained, effective environmental coverage.” His one caveat:

What’s happening in the paper’s newsroom (and much more so in other newsrooms!) is not specific to the environment. As today’s post noted, the religion and education desks have had a smilar fate… [B]ackground financial pressures, building around the industry the same way that heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building in the atmosphere, are what will erode the ability of today’s media to dissect and explain the causes and consequences of environmental change and the suite of possible responses.

Sheldon Toplitt is skeptical about Baquet’s claim that the move isn’t about cost-saving:

Looks as if the Times is less focused on Going Green than it is greenbacks going away as advertising revenues and paper edition circulation decrease.

Earlier coverage of how the press is covering climate change here.