CNN is not the only television network that has been slashing science jobs. According to The Washington Post, “NBC Universal made the first of potentially several rounds of staffing cuts at The Weather Channel [last week], axing the entire staff of the “Forecast Earth” environmental program during the middle of NBC’s ‘Green Week,’ as well as several on-camera meteorologists.” Gannett has eliminated roughly 1,800 jobs this week at newspapers around the country, though it’s unclear which beats have been most affected. And Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine recently nixed its bureau in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where NASA launches its rockets and shuttles. Cowing, at NASAWatch, says that he is simply shocked “that at a time when science and technology should be on everybody’s lips, this expertise is suddenly not in demand.”

George, at the Society of Environmental Journalists, noted that she has “seen this before” at CNN and that she hopes it will rebuild. Indeed, when the network cancelled a weekly science program in 2001, an article in the Environment Writer newsletter reported that, “It looks like the end of the road for what was left of CNN’s once-heralded environment unit.”

So is this the end all over again? Perhaps not. The energy and environment beat, in particular, will likely continue to gain importance and relevance as the 21st century unfolds. Yet one can’t help but feel dismayed by CNN’s decision or that this industry, at least for the time being, is sadly deteriorating.

 

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.