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It’s Time for the Media to Crank UP Its Energy and Climate Coverage, Not Cut It Back

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Cross posted from Scaling Green

For a number of important reasons – economic, environmental, strategic – it’s clear that energy is one of the most important, urgent topics of the day.  It’s also a fascinating, fun topic to talk about, with the price of clean energy plummeting, with massive investment pouring into the sector, with tremendous opportunity for profit, and with stunning technological breakthroughs being reported on a regular basis. For all these reasons, one would think that the media in general, and our leading newspapers in particular, would be sharply ramping up coverage of energy and energy-related economic, environmental, and strategic issues.

Yet, in a puzzling development, that’s the exact opposite of what we’ve witnessed recently at the New York Times, where in the past two months alone, the paper has: 1) “dissolved its environment desk, eliminating its two environment editor positions and reassigning those editors and seven reporters;” and 2) “[shut] down the Green blog that had been home to original environmental reporting every weekday.”  Now, you might ask, if coverage of energy and environmental issues isn’t a priority for the New York Times, what exactly are they focusing on?  This tweet by Joss Fong helps answer that question: in short, it appears that baseball, hockey, football, basketball, horse racing, golf and soccer are all higher priority than what is arguably the most important issue facing humanity. In addition, it appears that covering the “Awards Season” ranks higher than energy and environmental coverage at the New York Times, as does “news, commentary and entertainment for and about baby boomers.”  Fascinating.

Fortunately, not every newspaper is moving in the same direction as the New York Times (although many are, unfortunately). For instance, USA Today recently announced a new, year-long series called “Weathering The Change,” in which the paper’s reporters will look intensively at how fossil-fuel-fired climate change is impacting the nation.  We’re happy to hear that USA Today is launching this project, and we urge other media outlets to follow suit.  We also would strongly suggest that with the future of our economy and our planet resting heavily on the energy policy choices we make over the next few years, that all major media outlets strongly consider significantly increasing – and certainly not decreasing – their coverage of these issues.

P.S. For readers of Blue Virginia, I’d add that we desperately need an informed public on these issues to counter the insidious, destructive influence of science deniers like Ken Cuccinelli.