An ‘imperfect’ but well-regarded analysis of New York Times environment and climate coverage points to a decline in number of stories published in recent years.

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A database of environment-related stories aggregated by Environmental Health Sciences, of Charlottesville, Va., shows a general downward trend in New York Times coverage in recent years.

The compilation “is an imperfect way to count absolutely, positively, every last story published around the world,” Publisher Peter Dykstra acknowledged in a recent members-only listserve comment, which he allowed to be cited. “I’m pretty sure that a perfect way doesn’t exist.”

That said, the database is generally considered to be the best available for such research, and the sites EHS oversees — including The Daily Climate — are closely followed by media, scientific, and related public policy experts tracking climate change issues.

“Based on the stories we aggregate, the Times had already been on a two-year skid for enviro stories” even prior to recently having abandoned its specialized environment reporters desk and its dedicated “Green” blog.

Through the first quarter of 2013, Dykstra said, his organization has aggregated 551 environmental stories in the Times. At that pace, 2013 coverage “would amount to a slight increase over last year,” prior to the paper’s eliminating its environment desk and “Green” blog. At that pace, he noted, 2013 would fall nearly 25 percent below the 2010 “peak” year of coverage analyzed.

Looking back at overall climate change coverage in media aggregated since 2009, the first year for The Daily Climate, the EHS data show the numbers indicated in the second chart accompanying this story.

While declining in absolute numbers, Dykstra and others point out, the newspaper’s total number of stories still remain higher than those of other daily newspapers in the U.S.