Green Piece: Environmentalist blogs are becoming an endangered species

In Columns, Columns, Green Piece, Opinion


Since beginning this journey as an environmental columnist, I’ve made a habit of regularly checking different news sites in order to gain some perspective on big environmental issues.

I’m a huge fan of the Los Angeles Times and its Green Spot section, which is entirely dedicated to everything Southern Californians might want to know on environmental happenings in the local area and abroad. I also enjoy reading the Huffington Post’s Green Section, which has a lot of useful and interesting information for the environmentalist in all of us.

But perhaps one of my favorite sources has been the New York Times’ Green Blog.

No stranger to excellence in journalism, the New York Times has undoubtedly been one of the leading authorities on all things environmental. In the same spirit as everything they report on, the Times has made a concerted effort to draw attention to some of the most important environmental issues this world faces.

So imagine my shock to learn that the New York Times canceled its Green Blog on March 1.

“This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects,” the final blog post stated. “But we’ll forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics.”

If that’s the case put forward by the Times, I’m not really buying it.

And this hasn’t been the only element environmental coverage that’s been cut. In January, the Times eliminated its Environmental Desk, but decided to keep the Green Blog; as long as Green Blog had information that was impactful and held an audience, it would not be in any danger of cancellation, managing editor Dean Baquet said. He said this at the time the Environmental Desk was done away with.

And here we are two months later with no Green Blog.

As Columbia Journalism Review’s Curtis Brainard put it, this was a “horrible decision.” Brainard stated that the blog grabbed a niche audience concerned with environmental happenings while simultaneously allowing the New York Times to report on important things that they didn’t have space for in the paper.

I don’t think anybody could have put it better.

I suppose that upon thinking about it, it’s really not that shocking that the Green Blog section of the prominent metropolitan newspaper has been canceled. In the wake of digital publishing, every newspaper has had to make tough decisions on what they can afford to keep and what they can’t. Eyeballs are money, after all.

Even if published material solely exists on a website, newspapers still have to consider advertising revenue.

Still, it shocks me to think that a newspaper that has long stood the test of time in spite of industry changes could give up on  extensive coverage of things capable of changing the course of our world.

New York Times has stood above other newspapers in its excellence not simply because it’s well known; it has stood above the rest because it really is one of the leading sources of investigative journalism in our world.

I’ve always idolized the professionalism and excellence that the Times represents, but I have to say that I’m very disappointed by this action. The changes that we see happening in our world are momentous.

Population change and scarcity of resources paired with climate change are going to be a real problem for human beings. Our generation is going to see a world in which irreversible damage will be done to ecosystems, and people will war over the rights to such basic necessities as water.

The New York Times must have recognized that there was an importance in presenting the changing nature of climate and conservation. They must have understood that there was value in showcasing the positive efforts of people trying to protect the resources of this one planet of ours.

So it boggles my mind what reasons they might have for cancelling the blog. Even if it wasn’t drawing in the kind of revenue the Times was looking for, it was still an impactful and relevant coalescence of reporting.

I still believe in the New York Times and its commitment to journalistic ethics, but I believe this was a very poor choice.

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