The New York Times Attempts To Kill The Devil

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 8th, 2008

Is there a hint in today’s New York Times of how a redefining is taking place by the mainstream media regarding how editors and reporters will approach cryptozoology stories, post-Georgia hoax? Has an overt future motive been revealed in this article on the Jersey Devil?

Do you think, from left, Belinda Connolly, Laura Leuter, Charley Lolio and Katie Brown, were surprised to see themselves in the paper this morning?

In this morning’s editions of The New York Times, there is a profile of the Devil Hunters, the “official researchers” of the Jersey Devil, “a shy specimen of cryptozoology that has haunted these parts long enough to have sent tricornered hats spinning from the mops of frightened colonists.”

The piece seems strangely out-of-place in this flagship media giant. It is about a nice group of young folks with an interest in the mystery. Nevertheless, the paper seems to want to turn this story into some kind of statement on a deeper psychological level.

With the recent events, the Times couldn’t help but frame their story editorially. For example, we find this in the essay:

Why do we wish for such things?

Why do we root for the discovery of beings that would subvert our understanding of the natural order? Why, oh why, would a group of people actually hope that somewhere in the dark expanse, beyond the fluorescent lights of a New Jersey strip mall, there frolics — a devil?

This curious desire was in full evidence recently when two men announced their discovery of a half-ape, half-human carcass in the backwoods of Georgia: an ex-Bigfoot that had ceased to be. They placed the remains in a freezer and promised that DNA analysis would conclusively prove the existence of this legendary creature.

That the supposed Bigfoot carcass turned out to be a defrosting rubber costume stuffed with animal entrails is less instructive than the way news outlets reported the matter — first with a kind of hopeful skepticism, then, once the hoax was exposed, with a dismissive, we-knew-it-all-along harrumph.

And how is this Jersey Devil article also not filled with some of these same elements of optimism for the unknown and distaste for it, too?

Has not this article been rather obvious as to why it was written? Perhaps it merely was so the newspaper reporter and editor could have a platform for what they really wanted to record, at the very end?

The group routinely receives calls, including more than a few from people wanting to report something seen decades ago. A woman named Gretchen, for example, reported seeing a devil-like creature while driving with her family through the Pine Barrens in 1966. It was the size of a man, she said, with small horns, a long tail and wings that were “not leathery bat wings but not big fluffy angel wings” either.

This year alone, there have been at least 10 possible encounters, including a horselike creature flying over Jackson and a shrieking, winged animal perched on a chicken coop in Eldora. Not long ago a woman reported seeing “a very large creature with red-orange eyes” flying out of the woods along the Garden State Parkway in Seaville.

So vivid. So real. So wishing it were true.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “The New York Times Attempts To Kill The Devil”

  1. slowwalker-32 responds:

    It seems the New York Times is moving from” Left Wing” into “Left Field”. It could be they suspect the Skunk Apes are Republicans.

  2. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I don’t know. It could be that the editor wanted to write a witty comment on how the belief in cryptids is an interesting sign of the post-modern times we live in; how Bigfoot and aliens are beginning to overthrow other more institutionalized belief systems; how the need to believe in something beyond what we perceive in our ordinary lives keeps evolving as culture mutates.

    …Or, it could very well be that the people who run the NY Times are no fools, and have noticed that Cryptozoology sells newspapers, since there’s a genuine interest in these mysteries. It really is inconsequential to these journalists whether these creatures actually exist or not. As long as folks keep buying their product, they’ll keep offering it. And they’ll do it with the customary giggle, to keep themselves in their ivory tower of “journalistic objectivity”.

  3. SamuraiWannaBe responds:

    The sightings in the 60’s-70’s I KNOW are explainable because i met the ‘hoaxer’ he was a kid at the time playing in the woods, not trying to be the Jersey Devil, but thats what it turned into after he saw stories in the paper. Put two and two together (where the people said they saw, ‘the devil’ and where he was playing that day).

    Regarding the news paper article, it is and will be rather annoying trying to fight the media to post positive articles about crypto realted activites after the GA Gorilla episode. But you’ll see that regarding anything that is not commonly accepted in society at large.

    Activites and interestes that are considred to be on the fringe will always be treated as such untill they burst through into the main stream and are accepted by the public at large.

  4. kagon responds:

    I am afraid the real legacy of the Georgia Hoaxers is that they made anyone who claimed to have discovered anything a laughing stock. Hopefully the stigma wears off quickly and we can put it in the past.

  5. cryptidsrus responds:


    Methinks the Old Gray Lady has fallen victim to the rapidly spreading disease of “FoxNewsItis,” meaning out-and-out skepticism of the “unusual.” Basically they’re saying – “Stop believing in childish nonsense. Reason rules.” How arrogant. 🙁

  6. springheeledjack responds:

    I think the NY Times is just trying to cover itself–print some other stories, say, ‘yeah, see we are always open to these kinds of things’ and then they don’t look so bad for getting hosed on the Georgia incident…I am still in disbelief that so many news agencies just went for the bait, lock, stock and proverbial barrel…sheesh!

  7. Spinach Village responds:

    Very annoying indeed… thats the mainstream media for ya
    hopefully Amy Goodmans crew would approach a subject like this with more respect, but I digress 🙂

  8. greybear responds:

    Reading the article I see that there are quotes from the Monty Python “dead parrot” sketch (references to an ex-bigfoot that has ceased to be). I think that this rather sets the tone of the article.
    I find it worrying that efforts to investigate unexplained phenomena of any sort are being met with this “tongue in cheek” reportage. To me, if someone has had a brush with the unknown their reporting of it should be treated with respect, it was real to them and if they have made a mistake, well heck who hasn’t, they should not be humiliated.
    Anyone who thinks that we know all there is to know and that there is nothing else “out there” is entitled to their opinion, but it is just that, an opinion. As they have not had the experience they should not deny that others may have.

  9. Scott C. responds:

    Purely public interest. The GA incident garnered a surprising amount of attention, and the Times wants to sell papers.

    I predict that we’ll see a little more of this kind of thing in the future…for awhile…but it will fizzle eventually, until something really is discovered.

    Of course, this reaffirms what we already knew: our society at large sees absolutely no distinction between the cryptozoological and the paranormal.

    The Jersey Devil is not fauna. I’m convinced of that.

    I’ve talked with old-timers in the Barrens…I’ve been to old Mrs. Leeds house…had some scary stuff happen…etc.

    The Jersey Devil is probably just as real as the North American Apes, but a different sort of creature altogether.

  10. DWA responds:

    Does the Times really think that it needs to do this sort of a priori debunking to be taken seriously or something?

    I wonder whether people who do this sort of thing kinow that their ignorance is showing.

    There is only one rational way to address something like this, if one doesn’t just want to bray like a donkey. And that is: seems there’s something going on there in New Jersey. But I’m a little shaky on the evidence. Show me.

    Or, for Pete’s sake, just say nothing. Don’t devote a significant cross-section of a tree to this nonsense. The Times could have enlightened us on what Barack Obama and John McCain think about at least two or three issues with the column inches they wasted here.

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