New York Times AWOL on Climate

Things do not seem to be getting better, as yet. Media Matters points out that:

The New York Times failed to cover both a major government report and a scientists’ statement indicating that global warming marches on, just months after the paper shuttered both its environment desk and an affiliated blog with the promise that coverage would not significantly change.

On Monday, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a scientific organization comprising thousands of earth scientists, published a quadrennial renewal of its position statement affirming that “humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years.” One day later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the annual “State of the Climate” report, showing that 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record worldwide and saw record-low Arctic sea ice extent. NOAA included these charts, illustrating warming of 0.16°C (0.28°F) per decade since 1970 and plummeting Arcticsea ice extent compared to the 1979-2000 average, respectively.

The AGU statement garnered mentions by National Public Radio and, and NOAA’s “sobering portrait of vast swaths of the planet transformed by rising temperatures” was covered by theAssociated PressReutersLos Angeles TimesWall Street Journal and CBS, and featured in wire reports in The Washington Post and on the websites of Fox News, NBC and ABC.

However, you didn’t read about either story in The New York Times.

In January 2013, The New York Times closed its environment desk, calling it a “structural” move and telling Inside Climate News it “expect[s] to cover the subject just as aggressively going forward.” Many — including the Times’ own ombudsman, Margaret Sullivan — expressed concern that coverage would suffer. In March, the other shoe dropped, as the Green blog, an able complement to the Times’ long-form environment coverage that often covered stories neglected in print, was discontinued. This time Sullivan was less equivocal,writing that she was “not convinced that The Times’s environmental coverage will be as strong without the team and the blog. Something real has been lost on a topic of huge and growing importance.” The Times continued to host blogs dedicated to horse-racing, its crossword puzzle, and “eavesdrop[ping] on The New York Times Magazine.”


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