Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Apologies...and an Explanation

I have posted and updated about all of the media hoopla that has surrounded the cicada emergence. And after two promised showings, the cicada piece on Good Morning America has not aired. Apologies to friends and family who have made a special effort to see the piece. You can see local coverage of the cicada story, including some brief footage of me from yesterday's early evening news on Channel 2 here. A transcript of a story that ran on Channel 5 can be found here. The story has proved problematic for the media for a couple of reasons. A formula, developed to predict the date of emergence of the 2004 brood east of here was applied to the Chicago area and a date of May 22 was calculated. This date was seized upon and repeated endlessly in both print and broadcast media. In some respects, the date prediction even proved to be fairly accurate- the first reports of cicada adults in the southwest suburbs started coming in Saturday evening. I'm anticipating, from early signs, that there will be large numbers of cicadas encountered in parts of the Chicago region (and throughout the range of Brood XII, which centers on northern Illinois). It's in the nature of most species of insects in this part of the world that they begin emerging, increase in numbers, gradually at first and then with increasing speed, over a period of a week or so. Unfortunately, from a media standpoint nobody wants to get left behind on a story. So everyone jumps on the earliest possible time to begin covering the story, and it appears when the phenomenon is still pretty unimpressive. By the time anything dramatic happens, it's old news already. Additionally, nuances like the fact that cicada densities are uneven tend to get lost in the hype. If the 1990 emergence is any guide, some places will see tons of cicadas, while other places even fairly close by will see few to none.

From the standpoint of someone being interviewed as an "expert" on the subject it's challenging- you have no control over what parts of the interview are kept and what parts are left on the cutting room floor. All of the caveats tend to be cut.

Will a piece on cicadas air on Good Morning America? At this point, I have no idea. I'd be willing to bet not. But after two false alarms, I'm probably not going to alert family and friends to take their valuable time trying to catch me on the tube. Again, my apologies to all.



At 20:46, Blogger robin andrea said...

I watched way more dancing on TV than I've ever seen. GMA was doing some kind of "Dancing with the Moms Special." Good thing, I had the sound turned off, otherwise it would have been impossible to wait. Too bad they didn't air a much more important piece on cicadas, and chose instead to concentrate on some silly trendy dancing thing. No wonder our country is in cultural decline.

At 21:46, Anonymous Mark H said...

hm........... I think Doug's starting to sound like our weathermen, "Hey, it's going to rain...maybe not today, maybe not tonight, but very soon...."

I KID..........perfect sense that soil temperature has to be right. Gardening is FULL of those rules about night times temps being at 50 for something to happen to the corn! Thanks.........

At 23:37, Blogger rodger said...

No need to apologize, this is why I have Tivo. I can record and erase at will.

I do so enjoy your media moments though.

At 23:50, Blogger Ur-spo said...

that must be a disappointment for you.
Damn bugs! can't we get them to put out on time??

At 01:32, Blogger lifescolorfulbrushstrokes said...

Bugs...I was more interested in the human species commenting on them. ;)

I will say this...I can handle most bugs but when they come about in hords, I get freaked out.

D...I will be in Chicago...but I am staying with someone...not sure what my scedule will be yet. You available typically for a lunch gathering if you work in downtown Chicago.

At 13:01, Blogger Doug Taron said...

To All- Well it aired this morning. It was much ado about nothing. I'm on for literally two seconds saying that they can be as loud as lawnmowers. More importantly than the TV piece, the cicadas are starting to show up in larger numbers. I'll try to get some stuff over the weekend to use for blogging next week.

Robin- I don't think I could have tolerated Dancing with the Moms even with the sound off.

Mark H- I actually did compare it to weather forcasting in an interview I did with one of the local news channels, though I don't think that comment aired.

Rodger- Thanks.

Spo- I wasn't disappointed so much as I was embarrassed. Most of my friends and family are not in Chicago, so I tend to tell people when I'm going to be on something that airs nationally. When it doesn't air, I feel like I've wasted folks' time.

Tony- In terms of getting freaked out by hoards of insecdts, the cicadas should still be going strong when you are in Chicago. I'm sure that we could arrange for you to experience them.

I will probably be able to get together for lunch while you are in town. I think it would be fun to meet a fellow blogger in person (Spo and Michael Guy don't count- I knew them before we blogged). I'll email you with contact information so we can see if this works out.


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