Daily Telegraph columnist and environment reporter Geoffrey Lean says he has been “pushed out” after a 46-year career in newspaper journalism.
Lean has written about his departure in a blog warning that rejection of the seriousness of climate change is growing on the comment pages of newspapers while retreating elsewhere.
He said: “I still think print is better than electronic media. It can broaden minds, while the internet tends to narrow them. People usually look online for things that already interest them, and for views that they already hold, reinforcing prejudices. Newspapers, at their best, surprise you as you turn their pages, catching your eye with – and tempting you to read about – new subjects and differing opinions.
“The trouble is that they are increasingly failing. Not just commercially, with circulations – and advertising revenues – declining, but in their old mind-broadening mission, at least in Britain. There are, let me quickly say, remarkable exceptions but, by and large, newspapers seem to be becoming more uniform in their views, and less tolerant of dissenting voices.”
He estimated that there are ten columnists in the British press “who reject or underplay the dangers of global warming, with precious few columnar voices on the other side”.
He said: “Until recently I was perhaps one of such voice but in the summer I lost my half page column in the Daily Telegraph, while rejectionist columnists across a whole range of newspapers have retained theirs, and I am now being pushed out altogether.”
Press Gazette understands that Lean's retainer at the Telegraph has not been renewed but that he may still continue to write for the paper on an occasional basis.
Lean said he has launched his blog because he is determined not to be silenced and he has covered the Paris COP21 climate conference at his own expense. He also hopes to write for other newspapers.
Sunday Times columnist Charles Clover paid tribute to Lean.
He told Press Gazette: “It’s very sad if somebody with the stature of Geoffrey Lean, who has done as much for the environment as he has, does not have a perch on a national newspaper to comment from because he is the folk memory of whether we have done right by our environment or not going back to the 1970s.
“Experienced specialist correspondents are the memory which has been lost by politicians and the Civil Service. They know where the bodies are buried, no one else even remembers.
“This is all quite apart from the amazing things he has done and changed and written about: from creating a big noise about lead pollution in air, which has resonance now everyone is talking about nitrogen dioxide, to flagging up that Halvergate Marshes were going to be ploughed because the law was defective, to writing about climate change from the beginning. Geoffrey Lean has written about what matters and is the doyen of our fast-dwindling group of environment correspondents.”
Lean began his career at the Yorkshire Post and went on to write for The Observer and Independent on Sunday before joining The Daily Telegraph.