New York Times abandons the environment? Not so fast…

January 11, 2013

Today, the world’s most influential newspaper announced it was reshuffling its newsroom in regards to how it will cover “the environment.”

Specifically, the New York Times announced it will dismantle its “environment” pod of reporters and reassign them to different beats.  Clearly, this is not great news for people concerned about the environment, but what’s the real impact in the marketplace of ideas?

The news business is just that — a business. And the newspaper business in particular has been in tumult for a decade. We at Resource Media have a long list of highly talented journalists who have abandoned the craft as newsrooms have shrunk, budgets withered and editors grow, if possible, even more cranky. And we honor and cherish the work of dedicated reporters and editors who still believe in telling the unvarnished truth, without fear or favor.

Does the reshuffling of the deck at the Times mean that environmental stories are crippled? No.  And today’s front page gives witness to that, with a visually driven story linking extreme weather and climate change. But this change does reinforce the fact that people concerned about air, land, water and wildlife have to be that much smarter about how we tell our stories, explain our work and build real relationships with a broader and more diverse community.

The information industry – be it printed on pulp, beamed over the airwaves or streamed over the Internet – is in the storytelling business. People will pay to hear stories that affect their lives, impact their pocketbooks, tug at their heartstrings, or make them laugh.

At the same time, people will yawn and pass by information about esoteric abstractions, drawn-out legalities and boring insider baseball.

If you want to tell a story about the environment, make it real. Make it relevant. And make it about something a lot more specific than just “the environment.”

The bottom line is, the environment matters. Our natural surroundings impact every aspect of human life and all our endeavors. Sometimes, editors, readers and decision-makers forget that. Our job is to remind them, loud and clear.


Photo credit: Travis S., Flickr