Lack of Global Warming Means Cold, Empty Chairs at New York Times Environment Desk

Lack of Global Warming Means Cold, Empty Chairs at New York Times Environment Desk
January 12, 2013

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

What's in worse shape? The state of the Earth's climate? Or the state of the New York Times?  Global temperatures are not rising all that quickly, so the Earth is doing fine. Meanwhile, the Old Gray Lady is shutting down it's Environment Desk. From Inside Climate News [emphasis mine]:

"The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk."

Eliminated. Done. Over. Kaput. And if the Green Blog is not being edited by a non-existent environment desk, the blog may just go away, too — or end up lightly managed by a Times editor who is paid and pressured by a dying paper to do the important work of the newspaper.

Any way you want to spin it, America's "paper of record" no longer considers alarmist, sky-is-falling coverage of the climate and energy beats worthy of the full-court press of a dedicated staff. Go figure. Andrew Revkin, perhaps the most famous of Times staffer on the environment beat, tweeted this at around midday on Friday:

"Great coverage comes from great teams, not desks."

The image he used to illustrate what a "great team" looks like is the same picture I used to illustrate this post: Seven slackers who look like extras in "His Girl Friday" killing time in a mostly empty news room. What does it say that Revkin used that image to illustrate his opinion?

Revkin tweeted a few more times about this news — damned financial pressures, and all — but put his fuller comment on his Facebook page:

"I was never fan of standalone environment desk even when I worked for it. Creates a ghetto for the subject and reporters. Environment is not a beat. Environmental impacts are a result of human decisions and actions. I do think it's a mistake, however, to end position of environment EDITOR. More than ever, the paper needs someone to track, coordinate and vet the environmental content coming through any desk..."

Yes. There's nothing like dedicating a whole team to a beat to put the subject and the reporters in the ghetto — like those poor souls who, as a team, cover the White House, the Pentagon, Congress, education, technology, and even (gasp!) sports.

So, where does that leave us? Here: There will no longer be an environmental editor at the New York Times to "track, coordinate and vet" coverage that advances a Chicken Little narrative while ignoring scientific data that helps explain the non-alarmist truth of what's actually happening to the climate.

I think the republic — and the Earth — will survive. For one, Heartland has long-produced Environment & Climate News to pick up the slack.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)