The New York Times (NYT) recently faced backlash from the crypto community after publishing an editorial on Bitcoin mining. The article claimed that the industry is harmful to the environment, prompting an organization called Stop the Presses to take issue with the Times’ paper usage. Stop the Presses launched a social media campaign against the NYT’s newspaper production, alleging that the company “kills approximately 59 million trees per year.”
The accusation is that the New York Times destroys a significant number of trees to produce its antiquated physical paper in a digital world. The group claims that the company prints propaganda on the paper they create with dead trees, yet we live in a digital age. “This wasteful practice must be stopped,” the organization stated on its website, nytimesup.org.
Many others share the same sentiment as Stop the Presses. Several people are sharing images and information on the subject while tagging the NYT Twitter account so the company notices the grievances. One individual estimates that if the New York Times kills 59 million trees annually, they create “2.832 billion pounds of CO2 annually.” The person notes that it is even worse when combining the 171 years of newspaper delivery. “That means they’ve murdered over 10 billion trees and created over 484 billion pounds of CO2,” the individual emphasized.
The number of trees used to create The New York Times since 1851 does not account for the CO2 used in the company’s 27 newspaper printing locations for manufacturing purposes. Furthermore, it does not account for the delivery process and all the fossil fuels used to transport the newspaper to stores. The NYT even features a 2009 article about the subject, and the author acknowledges that physical newspapers cause a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Citing an academic paper from 2004, New York Times contributor Tom Zeller Jr. explains that the study’s conclusion notes that “receiving the news on a PDA results in significant reductions in the release of carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides.”
In another New York Times article published in 2018 by Farhad Manjoo, the author explains how he took time off from reading digital news to read the physical paper for two months. Interestingly, Manjoo claims it was a “surprise blessing” even though he acknowledges that print “presents a narrower mix of ideas than you find online.” The blessing, Manjoo said, despite getting news that is a day old due to the printing and delivery delay, was that “hundreds of experienced professionals had done the hard work” for him.
The NYT has not responded publicly to any of the criticism stemming from Stop the Presses and other activists. In more recent times, the paper’s social media account with 55 million followers has lost its verification checkmark on Twitter. Physical print newspapers have declined over the last decade, and over the last two years, print subscribers have dropped by 7%. Data further shows that from 2005 to 2021, roughly 2,200 American print newspapers failed, with the majority of today’s readership migrating to digital media.
In conclusion, the environmental impact of physical newspapers in a digital age is a topic of concern. The New York Times, a major news outlet founded in 1851, has come under fire for its newspaper production practices. While some argue that print offers a unique experience, others believe that it is wasteful and harmful to the environment. As the media landscape continues to shift towards digital media, it remains to be seen if major news outlets like The New York Times will shift their focus entirely to digital media.