NPR Guts Its Environment And Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part Of The Problem’

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NPR has gutted its staff dedicated to covering environmental and climate issues. Given the nation’s and world’s renewed focus on the threat posed by unrestricted carbon pollution, this baffling move is already receiving widespread criticism from scientists and media watchers. It is “a sad commentary on the current state of our media,” as one top climatologist told me.

Katherine Bagley broke the story for InsideClimate News. She reports that earlier in 2014, NPR “had three full-time reporters and one editor dedicated” to cover environmental and climate issues within NPR’s science desk. Now, shockingly, “One remains — and he is covering it only part-time.”
NPR’s climate coverage has been fairly stagnant for years.

Climate communications expert Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel said The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 that led to the founding of NPR had as one of its goals that public broadcasting would serve as a “source of alternative telecommunications services” that would serve to “address national concerns.” This latest announcement illustrates how NPR has lost its way. The level of coverage of climate change by NPR has not served to increase public knowledge of climate change any more than any other commercial news outlet. Its coverage has returned to the levels seen around 2006. Reducing the environmental staff will further decrease its coverage of climate change. I would have thought NPR would take a proactive stance toward the coverage of climate change, given its charter to address issues of national concern. Sadly, it seems that instead of being part of the solution, NPR has now become part of the problem.
An InsideClimate News analysis of NPR pieces tagged “environment,” found that the number “has declined since January … dropping from the low 60s to mid-40s every month.”
Journalists and scientists quickly criticized NPR’s move.

Last year, climate coverage at the New York Times dropped following its closure of its own environmental desk. But the Times recently reversed course and expanded its team.
In an email to ClimateProgress, Bagley wrote “With the impacts of climate change becoming more salient, this seems like the wrong time for a news outlet to be reducing the resources or manpower it dedicates to covering this issue.” She hopes NPR ultimately ends up where the Times did: “It closed its desk, but after much criticism and data showing that its coverage declined, the paper made environment and climate a key priority again by assigning a number of new reporters to the beat.”

Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center and one of the country’s top climatologists, told ClimateProgress, “This is a sad commentary on the current state of our media and, in particular, environmental reporting. Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge we face as a civilization. Yet NPR apparently feels that it only deserves a fraction of one reporter.”

The move to shift reporters off the environment beat was driven by an interest to cover other fields more in depth, said Anne Gudenkauf, senior supervising editor of NPR’s science desk….
Gudenkauf also said she doesn’t “feel like [the environment] necessarily requires dedicated reporters” because so many other staffers cover the subject, along with their other beats.
Personally, I don’t know anyone in the media business who shares that view. Indeed, one of the reasons that Climate Progress greatly expanded its team of reporters dedicated to covering climate change last year is precisely because major MSM outlets like the Times were slashing coverage.
Yet, ironically, at the same time that the New York Times has figured out it made a mistake cutting dedicated climate reporters, NPR has made the exact same mistake.

From a report JOE ROMM, of Climate Progress, Oct.24, 2014.

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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