The New York Times Killing Its Green Team
Although it may not be wise to criticize major news outlets for someone in my position, i.e. someone who pitches media, the New York Times decision to end its green coverage was two-part (first to dissolve its environment desk and then on Friday to ” bid farewell” to its green blog). This was a huge mistake.
The Times has been a vital contributor to environmental coverage throughout the years. It’s also true that newspapers all across the country are experiencing a decline of paying readers, forcing editors into tough decisions to reduce major content areas. However, a major media outlet that is focused on green coverage has to rethink its approach. Even though it promises to continue to report on energy and environmental topics with aggressive reporting, it’s like a local school district claiming it will cut music and art to cover math classes.
It’s a sign that niche magazines are willing to take up the slack. Clara Jeffery, my former Mother Jones colleague, noted in a tweet just after the news that the Climate Desk collaborative media effort is actually hiring. Eric Roston, Bloomberg.com Sustainability Editor, invited “laid-off” Times bloggers to write for Eric Roston. These sites are for the converted. It is telling that one of the Times‘ last green blogs commenters was a climate denier.
Andy Revkin is a dedicated environmental journalist who continues to carry the torch for the Times by maintaining his popular Dot Earth Blog. This means that climate change issues are not “slow drip.” The modern newsroom is so reliant on clicks to determine what topics are covered that nuanced articles that provide context and examine complex solutions will not be seen the light of day.
The New York Times dedicated to environmental coverage had an important function: It connected all the dots to tell a complete tale of intertwining issues–how politics, culture and business combine to impact our natural environment. It also brought together people who care about many different issues ( cars and fashionand techand other items that the Times still has money to support via the blog form).
The Times was an outlet that aims to publish all the news possible. It did what traditional newspapers were supposed to do: It gathered a wide range of people around a campfire to share a selection of stories that were important to them all. The environment is one such.