A year ago, I wrote a year-end summary of our 2020 TV coverage that highlighted the obvious theme for that terrible year: poop.
I ended that story with these words: “There will probably be more poop in the news in 2021, and if there is, we’ll bring it to you. But here’s hoping there’s less poop to talk about than there was in 2020.”
With 2021 nearly at an end, I can now reveal that, in fact, there was way less poop in 2021—or at least, there was way less poop in our TV coverage.
(“Rob, isn’t this story just a juvenile attempt to squeeze even more easy humor out of repeating the word poop?” Shhhh! That’s only the first few paragraphs!)
I don’t remember having a meeting about it, but it looks like by the end of 2020 we’d had our fill of poop and so, as the new year began, we turned our attention to the topic that would dominate this year: critters!
We brought you a story about research into suckers — “the wildebeests of the Great Lakes” — from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.
We tested a cat named Ling Ling to see if her blood was full of PFAS after napping seemingly all day every day—as cats are wont to do—on a couch treated with Scotchgard. (We tested a human too, Ling Ling’s owner Tom Perkins, who also wrote an article about PFAS in his home, but despite his best efforts, he does not qualify as a critter.)
We told you about Monty and Rose, a couple of plucky piping plovers who’ve taken up summer residence on Chicago’s Montrose Beach — and whose offspring have colonized Toledo. They’ve all flown south for the winter at the moment, but the family shows no signs of stopping, so 2022 may bring plover updates.
We also reported on the other birds that pass through Chicago — or try to — and the ways that architects and regular folks can help keep migrating birds safe from one of their archenemies: windows.
We told you about sturgeon, and the people who volunteer to guard them against poachers along the Black River, near the northern tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula.
We even made a story about squishy animals that lived in the Great Lakes region way back in the Silurian Period, which ended more than a 150 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared. The fossils were preserved by surprising means, only to be unearthed in a quarry in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
But — in the name of journalistic balance — we also covered the critters we’re not so happy with, including the invasive mussels that have colonized so much of the lake bottom, including many historic shipwrecks.
This all has me wondering if a theme will emerge in our 2022 coverage and what it might be. Only time will tell.
See you next year!
Read 2020’s staff lookbacks:
Or read some real news on Great Lakes Now:
Featured image: As part of the “PFAS in the House” story, Ling-Ling got her blood tested for PFAS levels. Photo by Great Lakes Now.