Wall Street Journal

Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal kill enviro-news blogs – is there a need for them?

Do you enjoy reading Dateline Earth? Is there a need for environmental news blogs? I hope the answer to both those questions is yes…. but if not I’d like to hear from you. Tell me: Is this a worthwhile enterprise? Because there are a lot of stories we’d like to get to out there – documents to read, people to call, data to analyze. All that takes time, and writing Dateline Earth costs me time.

Lest you think I’m fishing for compliments, I should point out that my inquiry is prompted by a post today on Columbia Journalism Review’s Observatory blog discussing how the Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal have discontinued their enviro-news blogs.

Both of these publications have storied histories and high journalistic standards.So CJR’s Curtis Brainerd checked in with editors at both sites, asking: whassup?

The answers are, it goes without saying, complex. The WSJ didn’t engage with Brainerd, which is a real shame, because a lot of us out here would like to know what they were thinking.

At the Monitor, sadly, the answer mostly seems to be that they just don’t have the horses any more.

A series of e-mails from Monitor Editor John Yemma to Brainerd offered that the environment is no longer a specialty – so true! Reporters on the city hall and business and feature beats, to name just a few, need to be familiar with what is sure to be the story of the century.

But Yemma also said that the Monitor’s Bright Green blog – the publication’s very first blog, instituted back when the copy had to go through the paper's cumbersome computer editing process for print stories – was discontinued in part because writer Eoin O’Carroll is busy doing something other than environmental journalism:

Business journos jumping on the climate story

With the nations of the world preparing to say how much they are willing to do to combat climate change, it's heartening to see business journalists jumping on the story.

Two worthwhile and recent examples:

  • Today Marketplace launched a series called "The Climate Race," in which reporters Sam Eaton and Sarah Gardner ventured out from their desks in LA to find out how climate change is affecting Americans on the ground. Today's installment took us to Helena, Montana, where a beetle has devastated forests surrounding Montana's state capital. The beetles used to die off in the winter, but a few degrees' warming has made all the differrence. Today Helena is surrounded by hills ablaze in orange, red and gold. No, those aren't the gorgeous and welcome warm hues of autumn. These trees, you see, are evergreens. They turn those colors when they die.
  • The Wall Street Journal's Weekly Journal Report just featured "Five Technologies That Could Change Everything." Now, Marketplace's Eaton and Gardener are reporters on the program's sustainability desk, but I'm pretty sure the WSJ doesn't have one of those. And while the Marketplace piece was straight-ahead what-are-the-effects reporting, the WSJ was thinking -- as always -- about investors as editor Michael Totty examined space-based solar energy, advanced electric car batteries, renewable-energy storage, carbon capture and storage and next-generation biofuels. The piece features a basic rundown on where each of those technologies stands, enough to get investors' interest piqued. The graphics are pretty good, too.   

It would be a weclome sign to see more of our colleagues in the financial press pressing forward with reporting on the perils and opportunities presented by climate change.