The Dallas Morning News has published nothing about the NCA, for instance, but a few hours before the draft was released, reporter Todd J. Gillman wrote a strange post for his blog about a different “climate change assessment”—one desired by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who just took over the House Science Committee and wants to hold “a hearing in coming weeks on the current state of the environment.” Highlighting that partisan gambit while ignoring the NCA is awful, especially at an outlet where the editorial board pledged in a set of New Year’s resolutions to “advocate for meaningful climate change legislation and a national energy policy that balances the nation’s short-term need for oil and gas with the longer-term need to develop clean, safe and reliable alternative energy sources.”

Solid articles from The Associated Press and Reuters have taken up some of the slack, and a lot of regional papers have run syndicated stories from national papers or their parent companies’ DC bureaus, but these pieces don’t bring the issue home for readers of, say, The Eagle-Tribune in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.

Regional outlets aren’t the only ones that should give this story more weight, though. The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, all had good pieces that described the NCA in broad terms, but none made it into the paper, let alone onto the front page. (For more on why they should have, read Chris Mooney’s explanation of “why the National Climate Assessment is a BFD.”) Again, that’s a failure.

The NCA is one of the most important consensus statements in climate science, and for news outlets big and small it provides an excellent opportunity to cover the ways that a warming world is changing our own back yards.


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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.