The news for environmental journalism in the United States is grim and getting grimmer. From 85 weekly science sections in newspapers in the U.S in 1989, there were just 19 left by 2012.
On Mar. 1, the New York Times announced it was discontinuing the Green Blog that tracked environmental and energy news. In January, the paper had dismantled its three-year-old environment pod.
“Without journalists to uncover stories and speak to authoritative sources, the public loses.” — FERN’s Samuel Fromartz
This year, too, Johns Hopkins University retired its 30-year-old science writing programme, following in the footsteps of Columbia University which, in 2009, closed its earth and environmental science journalism programme because of a poor job market.
Like climate change, the demise of science reporting is a slowly unfolding tragedy (sic), say many environmental journalists in the United States.
At a time when conversations should be revolving around climate change, energy, natural resources and sustainable development, space for environmental reporting and coverage in the United States seems to be shrinking.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the fifth in a series, says the evidence is now overwhelming that humans are the primary drivers of global warming.
“A potential knowledge gap arises as environmental journalism shrinks. The public learns less about environmental and related health issues, but at the same time may fall prey to unscientific claims that often hold sway on the Internet,” a worried Samuel Fromartz, the editor-in-chief of the non-profit Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), told IPS on the sidelines of the 23rd annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, held earlier this month in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Without journalists to uncover stories and speak to authoritative sources, the public loses,” he said.
Scott Dodd, editor of On Earth.org of the Natural Resources Defence Council, and who considers climate change the “most urgent story of our times”, told IPS that environmental issues are “consistently under-covered”.
From 85 weekly science sections in newspapers in the U.S in 1989, there were just 19 left by 2012.