US

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

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Michael Bastasch Contributor
Font Size:

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.”

Kramon said that “climate change is one of the few subjects so important that we need to be oblivious to cycles and just cover it as hard as we can all the time.”

The decision to close the desk was met with “shock and anger” on Twitter and Facebook, according to Andrew Revkin of the NY Times’ Dot Earth Blog.

“[W]ithout a designated staff your editor would have to rely completely on borrowing reporters from other desks, and editors on those desks would get no credit from management for any environmental stories their borrowed reporters produce,” Dan Fagin, journalism teacher at New York University, wrote on Revkin’s Facebook wall.

Beth Parke, executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists, also expressed concerns about the Times’ decision and called the it “worrying.”

“Dedicated teams bring strength and consistency to the task of covering environment-related issues,” she told InsideClimate. “It’s always a huge loss to see them dismantled … It’s not necessarily a weakening to change organizational structure, but it does seem to be a bad sign. I will be watching closely what happens next.”

Revkin argues that the Times’ environmental coverage will continue to break new ground.

“The Times excelled at environmental coverage before there was an environment pod, continued during that phase, and, I predict, will do so going forward, within the financial constraints facing all journalism,” writes Revkin. “I know they recognize the importance of global warming, the erosion of the world’s biological riches, the impacts of pollution on people and ecosystems.”

Follow Michael on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.