Environmental Reporting? We Say Yes, NYT Says No Thanks

On March 1, 2013, The New York Times shut down their Green blog, discarding the last remnants of their dedicated environmental news team. The news arrived at 5pm that Friday, the time that the Times itself usually receives announcements from government agencies and corporations with bad news that they’d like to have buried. 

We Ecocentric bloggers were dismayed because most mornings began with a visit to the Green blog as we produced our curated Eco News (look to the right – we’ll go on without you, Grey Lady!).

And while our Eco News (and news addiction) lives on, sadly the Times’ environmental reporting is in question. They are not completely abandoning environmental news because, as the editors write, they will continue to “forge ahead with… aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics,” with much of it destined for the public policy-oriented Caucus blog and the energy technology-focused Bits blog. But what does that say about the value of hard-nosed environmental reporting – and really environmental issues, in general – when arguably the most prestigious news organization in the world downgrades the topic’s importance?

If the Green blog and environmental reporting aren’t deemed essential at the Times, then what is? Andrew Revkin provides the answer with a rundown of remaining blogs at the Times, where there are

nine sports blogs; nine spanning fashion, lifestyles, health, dining and the like; four business blogs; four technology blogs (five if you include automobiles as a technology); and a potpourri of other great efforts…

Yep, nine sports blogs. Granted, newspapers are businesses that need to keep up readership on popular news items for greater profit. Yet amidst the 65 Times blogs (our count) was there no way to maintain a single spot for the environment? The decision indicates the declining priority given to the environment, a beat which has been losing dedicated reporters and even the schools where they are trained. With the growing importance of environmental topics like climate change, energy technology, food policy, ocean acidification and many, many others it’s simply horrible timing to lose journalists who have the talent and expertise to investigate stories crucial to our future.

However, there are still outlets online that maintain their dedication to environmental reporting. Here’s a list of some of our favorite sources for food, water and energy journalism that we continue to rely upon every morning as we pull together our Eco News.

  • Filter down The Atlantic’s news to focus on its food coverage and you’ll read about food trends and public health and safety stories.
  • Circle of Blue, a water and environment news organization, puts an "intense focus on water and its relationships to food, energy and health."
  • E&E News may be the gold standard when it comes to overall environmental reporting today, with in depth coverage of legislation, climate science, the oil and gas industry among others. (Unfortunately it’s subscription-only, but you can get several free stories per day at their public site.)
  • FoodNavigator-USA.com is a daily online news service that offers news, opinions, data and more to the food and beverage industry.
  • The Hill’s E2 Wire is a great source for energy and environment developments in Congress and at federal agencies.
  • ProPublica and its brand of investigative journalism was doing in-depth reporting on the problems associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) pre-Gasland and is now following the largely untold risks of toxic waste disposal in underground injection wells.
  • Scientific American provides a great selection of energy and sustainability stories, with a particular emphasis on new research.
  • Yale Environment 360 includes a mix of opinion, extended interviews and reporting on its site covering a mix of food, water and energy topics from around the world.
  • And of course, the Society of Environmental Journalists website is an invaluable source of links to reporters and media outlets covering everything near and dear to Ecocentric’s heart.

Who are you reading, dear Ecocentric fans? Let us know in the comments.