Last week I wrote a strongly worded and widely read piece: “The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati.”
I received a great deal of support for the analysis from of number of people, even someone who works at the Times. But there was some blowback for my call to cancel your subscription to the paper.
Of course, Big Media seems impervious to outside criticism — indeed, often wears it as a badge of honor (“if everybody’s criticizing us we must be doing something right”). Maybe nothing can be done.
In the case of my post, the blowback came from Charlie Petit at MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Tracker. Petit is someone I respect — he “has been on the science and technology beat since 1970.”
We exchanged e-mails and then had a phone conversation. He retracted his most strongly worded comment, and I decided to modify what I had written. We both agreed that blogging without an editor has many benefits, but it does have costs.
He gave me some very positive words of encouragement for Climate Progress — and some advice, too, which hopefully will improve my blogging in the months to come.
One thing I realized in rereading my earlier post is that I didn’t put what I was suggesting into the full context of what has happened in the past five years. So I added this at the end:
The NYT remains a great and important paper in many respects. Its coverage this year on climate science (by Gillis) and fracking have been exceptional. That said, I do think that if climate is your priority issue, as it is for many readers, and if you are frustrated at the poor coverage of this issue at the Times, if you have tried letters to the editor and to the ombudsman, as I’ve suggested in the past, all to no avail, if you worry about the apparent influence of fossil fuel companies on the Times, then canceling your subscription is one of the few ways you have left to send a message.
A number of sources have confirmed, as a 37-year EPA veteran reported here, the Oil & Gas “industry is targeting the Times” because its fracking series “had an unprecedented role in prodding EPA into action.”
Certainly it appears that the business side of the NY Times has warmed up to the fossil fuel industry as part of its effort to find a viable business model in the Internet age:
- The New York Times sells its integrity to ExxonMobil with front-page ad that falsely asserts “Today’s car has 95% fewer emissions than a car from 1970″
- Media stunner: New York Times partners with Shell Oil to peddle elite access
So what do you think a climate hawk should do, since letters and emails don’t work?