In a baffling display of mindless management, CNN has decided to sack its seven-person science, environment and technology team. Layoffs at U.S. newspapers are already in full swing (just see the unsettling chart on Paper Cuts), but apparently television news is not immune.
The job cuts are not the result of the financial crisis. Curtis Brainard says in his article in the Columbia Journalism Review: “A source at the network, who asked not to be named, said the move is a strategic and structural business decision to cut staff, unrelated to the current economic downturn.” Which makes this decision even more unsettling. “What’s more, the decision to eliminate the positions seems particularly misguided at a time when world events would seem to warrant expanding science and environmental staff,” Brainard concludes.
Undervaluation of science and technology reporters is not new, says Andrew Revkin in the New York Times: “Just in case you think this is a new trend, consider this flashback to the 1980’s, which shows how the public-service aspect of journalism — sustaining coverage of important arenas even if it does not “sell” — is a hard fit in a world focused on the bottom line.”
Will it ever change? Revkin is not optimistic. “My guess is that until a new generation is engaged in the importance and possibilities of science from the bottom up, science journalists will remain a threatened, if not endangered, species.”
Tells us what you think and how the situation is in your part of the world?
This post also appears on the World Federation of Science Journalists blog.