[C]oncern is certainly warranted. But there is potential for this to be a good thing. It all depends on the implementation. My first reaction, quoted here, was that this may be a way to modernize environmental reporting at the Times. After all, reporters were not fired, the senior editors may be. All the environmental expertise is still at the Times, but now outside of its own ghetto, able to cross-fertilize with other beats, and to collaborate with reporters with other domains of expertise.
NYTimes Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has a similar, if slightly more pessimistic, take:
Symbolically, this is bad news. And symbolism matters – it shows a commitment and an intensity of interest in a crucially important topic… If coverage of the environment is not to suffer, a lot of people – including The Times’s highest ranking editors — are going to have to make sure that it doesn’t. They say they will. But maintaining that focus will be a particular challenge in a newsroom that’s undergoing intensive change as it becomes ever more digital while simultaneously cutting costs.