Media Day, Cryptozoology, and Halloween
I am happy you found your way to Cryptomundo. But think about it, how do people hear about cryptozoology? From the media, of course. Television reality programming, books, radio shows, the internet, movies, magazines. All forms of the media, creating a whole new set of cryptozoologists-in-training. There are many choices out there for people, and oftentimes cryptozoologists are asked to do interviews. I do them because I am interested in a serious, adventurous, scientific profile of cryptozoology being shared with the public.
Many teachers and parents have told me that nonreaders have turned into readers after reading Cryptozoology A to Z or Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America. Others have quietly come over to me at conference or through emails to say they have gone into careers in the natural sciences, marine sciences, or palaeoanthropology, for examine, after being captivated by some facet of cryptozoology I showed them. I think this is wonderful, and I see informing the public about cryptozoology serves as a great gateway to further learning about many other interests. It might be trite to say, but cryptozoology is keeping kids in school.
How does one talk to the media, or even get them interested in the subject? By chance, usually, has been my experience. One little local story is picked up by the Associated Press, a sighting catches the fancy of the mass media, or the celebration of the life of a cryptozoologist (just like they were a rock star or a baseball player) happens after their death (as with Grover Krantz’s death on Valentine’s Day, 2002). These news items then become the focus of attention on a national or international scale. What follows is a media frenzy. This happens to me more and more frequently, it seems. Sometimes, it feels like the media are crowding the small porch at my doorstep, and certainly this Halloween is an extreme example convincing me that cryptozoology has never been more popular and exciting to the media and the general public.
Take the last two weeks. At the Texas Bigfoot Conference put on by fellow Cryptomundo blogger Craig Woolheater, there must have been over fifteen sets of media organizations there with HDTV and other standard digital equipment recording interviews for their news organizations, for future television programming, and for student projects. Conferences I’ve gone to in the last thirty years might have two or three people taping interviews, but almost twenty groups was a surprise, unheard of.
I got back home to Portland, Maine, nearly at midnight on Monday, the 17th, to be told my image had been on CNN, and that I had been mentioned on ESPN, and in papers from USA Today to your local daily. (I laughed as I was called a "professor at Western Maine University" – no such university exists – and other minor mistakes in some papers. You have to keep your sense of humor about slips in articles.) It appears that a story about my work, the Bates College symposium, and the one million dollar bounty, by Scott Taylor in the Lewiston Sun-Journal’s Sunday edition, had been picked up by the Associated Press. Who could have ever guessed?
I turned to my personal messages, which were filled to overflowing, and there were urgent requests for appearances from producers working for Tucker Carlson, Keith Olbermann, and Coast to Coast AM’s George Noory. There were 50 other requests for radio shows. I couldn’t do them all or even a few of them; I was exhausted or didn’t have the time. Newspapers from little towns in rural America to Scotland were talking about cryptozoology and me. It was all very humbling and overwhelming for several days.
Then just take today, Wednesday, October 26th. I did 18 radio show interviews beginning at 6:55 am this morning, and ending with a 2:00 talk with Voice of America. In the middle in there, I did a wicked good (as they say here) interview with Down East magazine, and on the radio tonight, Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s "Maine Things Considered," ran a pre-recorded conversation News Director Keith Shortall and I had. The Southern Illinoisan carried two news articles today, as well, one a profile of my links to Southern Illinois, and the other an update on the Murphysboro Mud Monster. (I love these updates on old stories, btw, and glad when this is a side benefit of an interview I’ve given.) Boing Boing David Pescovitz picked up on those, as did Richard Hendricks at The Anomalist Newsline and dozens of other websites. And Business Wire published the details on the $9000 in prizes being given by Duel Masters/Wizards of the Coast for cryptozoological photos. Wired Magazine’s Mark Baard confirmed our interview Friday. It was a busy day. And, like a gorilla in the mist, I had a head cold and sore throat. Ha. But I drank lots of tea and got through the day, emailing a special person, now and then, my sons, and more media!
Loren Coleman, SIUC grad and one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, poses in front of his 8-and-a-half-foot Bigfoot replica.
What have news people wanted to talk about? Well, the interviews have ranged through a wide variety of topics within cryptozoology – on Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, Creature Appreciation Week, the Texas Bigfoot conference , and the Bates College Cryptozoology Symposium
Despite what some might think, during the interviews, I avoid even mentioning or pushing my books. If they come up, they come up, but I generally talk about how cryptozoology is serving as a gateway to an interest in zoology, anthropology, natural history, and the sciences in general. If someone wants to read more from my books, great. But I’d rather see new people coming to cryptozoology and Bigfoot studies via a genuine curiosity stimulated by their own discovery of the study of hidden animals instead of someone feeling driven there by one author or another promoting a book. Some people may wish to read the old masters, Ivan T. Sanderson or Bernard Heuvelmans. Others might like to read the thoughts of the U.K’s Karl Shuker. And there will be those that like my books and others. The point is to open the doors and let people know that one of the most exciting things happening right now is cryptozoology.
And everyone is welcome aboard. We might just discover more new animals that way, see the creation of a whole new generation of cryptozoologists, and indeed, save the planet for the nonhuman animals and us, as a byproduct.