So, while it would be useful to have the kind of detailed data that would allow critics to tease out nuanced trends in climate coverage (for instance, it seems like the decline at The New York Times has occurred almost exclusively in its news pages, and not at all on its blogs, according to Factiva), any attempt to gather such details is going to be subject to a fair amount of uncertainty.

What’s seems indisputable is that, when it comes to the amount climate coverage overall, all signs point down. “I should note that I completely agree that, in general, there’s been a major decrease in climate policy coverage in the MSM,” Braun wrote in one of his e-mails. “In 2007, I certainly would not have guessed this!”

Indeed, few would have, and the fact that the decrease is evident even at E&E, where it can’t be chalked up to editors and reporters who don’t know or don’t care much about the story, is worrisome. There’s still a lot of really good climate change journalism out there, of course—and quantity does not equal quality—but it’s spread more thinly, and journalists are having tougher time finding solid pegs on which to hang it.

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