NPR Slashes Number Of Environment Reporters

The new headquarters for National Public Radio (NPR) on North Capitol Street in Washington, Monday, April 15, 2013. NPR moved
The new headquarters for National Public Radio (NPR) on North Capitol Street in Washington, Monday, April 15, 2013. NPR moved to a new headquarters facility with all digital equipment in Washington and is leaving its analog radio gear behind. The public radio network began broadcasting Saturday from its new home nine blocks north of the Capitol. NPR is consolidating its staff in one massive building after being spread across several sites for years. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

National Public Radio is down to just one environment reporter, and he's only covering the beat part time, InsideClimate News reported Friday.

As of early 2014, NPR had three reporters and an editor on the environment beat. Now they have one person, science reporter Christopher Joyce, holding down coverage of the issue, and his stories span a broad range of issues beyond the environment. The other three environment staffers have left NPR or moved to other beats.

While other reporters could, of course, fill in with environment coverage, as needed, InsideClimate's analysis of NPR's archives finds that the number of environment stories has declined:

The number of content pieces tagged "environment" that NPR publishes (which include things like Q&As and breaking news snippets) has declined since January, according to an analysis by InsideClimate News, dropping from the low 60s to mid-40s every month. A year-to-year comparison shows that the outlet published 68 environment stories in September 2013 and 43 in September 2014. Last month, about 40 percent of that content was climate-related due to NPR's cities project, as well as the media-intensive People's Climate March and the UN climate summit in New York City. The rest was a mix of stories on agriculture and food, land conservation, wildlife, pollution and global health.

NPR's senior supervising editor for the science desk, Anne Gudenkauf, told InsideClimate that she doesn't "feel like [the environment] necessarily requires dedicated reporters" as there are other reporters who can cover the issues, and she has not seen "any real change in the volume of material" on the beat.

NPR did not responded to additional questions from The Huffington Post about the reductions in its environmental reporting staff.

Other major outlets have eliminated their science and environment teams in recent years, including CNN in 2008. A study released last year found that 85 newspapers in the U.S. had weekly science sections as of 1989, but only 19 still had them as of 2012. The New York Times got rid of its environment desk in January 2013, but has since reconstituted a team to cover environment issues.