New York Times green shift: the verdict

Last spring, I wrote a half-hearted defense of the New York Times decision to shitcan its Green Blog and related decisions:

A Green blog is a place where environmenty people go to look for environmenty news. If we’re doing it right, that sort of news is embedded in all sorts of stories rather than a category of its own. So I agree with the rationale – both for killing the Green blog and for dismantling the Times’ green pod. I think coverage of the family of issues sometimes called the “environment beat” is best done integrated into a bunch of different beats, not off on its own.

But I called this a “half-hearted defense” because it only works if Baquet and company aren’t bullshitting us here, if they’re really planning to drive the topic(s) out into the newsroom as a whole.

A preliminary verdict, by New York Times public editor Margert Sullivan, is in:

The quantity of climate change coverage decreased…. Beyond quantity, the amount of deep, enterprising coverage of climate change in The Times appears to have dropped, too.

I was aiming at a subtlety that Sullivan’s analysis doesn’t address (doesn’t she read Inkstain?), the importance of incorporating environmental issue reporting into other topics, not writing about it in a stand-alone fashion. That said, however, the Times does not seem to have lived up to its claims when the moves were made eight months ago.