Don Your Way column: Why our reporters can’t always solve a mystery – and why readers love it

Every now and again, a call comes in to the newsdesk, or we're made aware of a message or a post on Facebook, about some sort of mystery noise that's been heard somewhere in Doncaster.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 12:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:58 pm
Darren Burke says that unlike The X-Files' Mulder and Scully, sometimes a mystery can't always be solved.

It happened again a few days ago.

A local village Facebook group was awash with speculation about some strange loud rumbling noises that had been heard in the dead of night.

Darren Burke says that unlike The X-Files' Mulder and Scully, sometimes a mystery can't always be solved.

Feverish posters suggested all sorts - mineworkings, sonic booms, quarrying, railways, clay pigeon shooting - but no-one could quite nail what might have been behind people being roused from their sleep (save from the usual comments about so and so falling out of bed, a bad curry the night before etc).

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It's the same with strange lights spotted in the sky - another regular favourite for not just this newspaper but local titles across the land.

And its that air of mystery which makes these kind of stories so popular.

More often than not, checks with the relevant agencies don't tend to shed much light on things. The police and fire services often don't have the answers and sometimes, the railway companies, RAF, airports etc draw a blank too.

It allows people to come up with their own theories and suggestions, simply because there is no logical explanation.

Of course, that allows people to let their imaginations run riot with talk of alien invasions and all the rest.

The failure to pinpoint the cause can anger some readers. "Why don't you know what it is? It's your job to find out!" and similar comments are levelled at us.

But sometimes, it is just a case of that no-one actually knows what is behind an 'explosion' or a 'mystery bang' and there isn't an answer or explanation.

Half the time, the police are busy dealing with major incidents to devote the resources to solving the riddle and so it stays unsolved.

Over the years, I've covered many such tales and they always prove popular. "Yeah, I heard it," "Heard it in Carcroft" or "didn't hear a thing," are the general thread of comments that pour in when we put out such a tale.

So we may be berated for not bringing 'real news' (whatever that is) but 'mystery noise/lights' stories always prove a massive talking point with everyone chipping in with a theory of some kind.

I'm sure this very piece will be slated - that's the way of the world these days.

Facebook and Twitter have opened up those channels of criticism to a wide, varied, and more often than not, angry public, each with something to say in a shouty manner.

But like them or loathe them, unsolved 'mystery' stories and tales of the unexplained have been around long before us and will be around long after us all too. They're fun - and should be treated as such.

Like The X-Files, the truth is out there somewhere...