NY Times eliminates environmental news desk in nod to ‘shifting’ reporting landscape

The New York Times will soon be closing its environmental news desk and reassigning its seven reporters and two editors to other departments as part of a restructuring effort to adapt to the “shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting,” reports InsideClimate News.

“It wasn’t a decision we made lightly,” Dean Baquet, the paper’s managing editor for news operations, told InsideClimate. “To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.”

Two editorial positions — environment editor and deputy environment — are being eliminated, though no decision has been made on what to do with the Green Blog.

Last month the Times announced that it would offer buyout packages to thirty non-union newsroom managers to cut costs.

However, Baquet said that the decision to cut the environmental desk has nothing to do with budgetary concerns and so no one is expected to lose their job. Rather, this move was “prompted by the shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting,” according to InsideClimate.

The environmental desk was created in 2009, back when environmental coverage was seen as “singular and isolated” — “pre-fracking and pre-economic collapse” — however, environmental stories are more complex and are “partly business, economic, national or local, among other subjects,” said Baquet.

“They are more complex,” he added. “We need to have people working on the different desks that can cover different parts of the story.”

InsideClimate reports that a similar restructuring happened to the paper’s education desk a few months ago, and editors are considering bringing this type of restructuring to religion reporting as well.

However, Baquet he would make sure that the Times’ environmental coverage doesn’t falter.

“My goal is to make sure we’re producing the same level of work,” he told InsideClimate. It “is too important of a topic to let it slip.”

Also, Glenn Kramon, the paper’s assistant managing editor, told The Daily Climate that he expects coverage of climate change issues to be “just as aggressively going forward.”