Month Without Metaphor (MWM) director Ronald Grouse announced yesterday that he won’t be issuing the usual “mid-term” report this year. Instead, he said, all statistics on the initiative will be published at the end of May.
Ronald Grouse, the director of Park media’s Month Without Metaphor, has taken Park media to task over what he describes as the manipulation of their readership “in the style of advertisers.”
In a scathing editorial this morning, The Avian Messenger’s chief political analyst criticized Park publications, calling them “complicit with advertisers” in their descriptions of products, places, and events.
Grouse, who has only been at the helm of the media initiative for a month, singled out The Rodent Commoner for its recent article on the shortage of burrows in The Park.
“The use of terms that evoke emotion, such as ‘home,’ ‘hearth,’ ‘shelter,’ and the invocation of ‘family,’ is inexcusable in a publication that is supposed to be dedicated to presenting unembellished facts,” Grouse wrote.
The MWM director didn’t stop at The Rodent Commoner. Using examples from almost every Park newspaper, he demonstrated the manipulation that has come to be seen as the norm.
“News media are not in the business of pulling heartstrings,” he wrote, apologizing in the next sentence for the metaphor. “News media are in the business of presenting the facts as they are known or have come to be known. We are supposed to allow the readers to make their own judgments, based on our presentation. We are not supposed to lead them to feel anything.”
Grouse concluded his editorial by saying that he is deeply disturbed by the growing willingness of publications to shill for companies without thought to the consequences.
“You can be sure that we will take this up further at the Media Circus at the end of the month,” he wrote.
Five years after The Park’s first media circus, the new director of Month Without Metaphor is about to “revise and remake” the event for a different purpose.
In an announcement this morning, Ronald Grouse confirmed rumours of his recent talks with Rodolfo van de Gier, president of the Association of Media Outlets of The Park (AMOP), who was in charge of the 2011 event. Grouse’s announcement said the two have agreed to work together on a “new kind” of media circus that will have an “altogether different” purpose, but it offered scant details.
“We are planning to host a two-day event toward the end of the month that will have the full participation of Park media. We also extended an invitation to The Park’s literary community, including writers, publishing companies, and journal editors, as well as representatives of the University of West Terrier’s Cuthbert School of Journalism. Together, we are hoping to have a full and open discussion about the dissemination of information, the use of language and the responsibility of all those who are involved in communication,” the announcement said.
No exact times or locations were mentioned, nor whether the “fun and games,” such as playing reporter or hosting a mock interview, would be included in the new event.
Ronald Grouse has declared war. But we’ll only be able to print that until Monday.
Just a few days before the start of Park media’s Month Without Metaphor (MWM), The Avian Messenger’s chief political analyst and newly-elected MWM director held a press conference this morning in which he himself used the war metaphor. And many more.
“It’s time we declared war on some of the tools that media use,” he said. “We need to communicate better and more effectively. We need straight talk: just the facts, no hyperbole. And we need to stop manipulating our readers. Our job is to inform, not to perform,” he said.
Grouse, who has in the past criticized the direction in which Park media appeared to be headed, said he is looking forward to May’s event.
“I look forward to steering Month Without Metaphor toward success,” he said. “The challenges we face as Park citizens are serious ones that require us to be clear-eyed and open-minded. I hope to be able to engage the hearts and minds of readers and listeners and build momentum toward creating a more honest and open media that will help with the problems we face.”
The executive committee of Park media’s annual Month Without Metaphor has named Ronald Grouse as director of the annual initiative.
The Avian Messenger’s chief political analyst will take the reins on Monday and begin by expanding MWM’s reach through social media, says an announcement issued this morning.
A graduate of the Cuthbert School of Journalism at the University of West Terrier, Grouse has been a frequent guest of Yannis Tavros on his Toro Talk Radio show and a regular commentator during coverage of The Park’s Groundhog Day celebrations. He has worked at The Avian Messenger for the past eight years.
Grouse replaces Alvin Tinamou, who was one of the founders of Month Without Metaphor and who served as its director the past three years.
The executive committee of Park media’s annual Month Without Metaphor will meet this afternoon, as pressure mounts to replace Alvin Tinamou as chief organizer and director.
The publisher of The Avian Messenger, who was one of the event’s founders, has been on leave since last September, after he suffered the trauma of the theft of his nest and the loss of his and his mate Adela’s eggs.
According to the agenda for the meeting, the possibility exists for not only naming a new director but for splitting the duties that Tinamou performed over the past three years. New positions might include social media director, publicity agent, and outreach manager.
Among those under consideration for the position of director are Nathan R. DiPressa, Editor-in-Chief of The Reptile Register and Executive Director of the Association of Non-Mammlian Park Newspapers (ANMPN), Senior Finance Reporter Antoinette Anhima of The Avian Messenger, Tarrance Turkey, Deputy News Editor at The Galliforme Gazette and an ANMPN founding member, Fannia di Volo, former Editor-in-Chief of The Insect Intelligencer (now The Serangga Star Adviser) and Priscilla Weevil, current Editor-in-Chief of The Serangga Star Adviser.
According to the agenda, the meeting will begin with a tribute to Tinamou, who declined the invitation to attend the afternoon gathering.
The chief organizer of the third annual Month Without Metaphor says we’re losing ground in the fight against the unncessary embellishment of the news.
“Plain speaking is disappearing and not bit by bit, but minute by minute,” says Alvin Tinamou, publisher of The Avian Messenger and one of the initiative’s founders.
In an interview with The Mammalian Daily, Tinamou quoted statistics that he says indicate the market for what he calls “the plain, unembellished truth” has diminished substantially over the past five years.[pullquote]Plain speaking is disappearing and not bit by bit, but minute by minute.”—Alvin Tinamou, chief organizer, Month Without Metaphor[/pullquote]
“Journalism has given way to storytelling and it’s a slippery slope from there,” he opined. “We’re no longer reporting on an event or situation; we’re taking readers on a journey for their entertainment rather adding to their knowledge or understanding,” he said.
Tinamou contends that the problem started innocently enough, when journalists were told to broaden their reports from “just the facts” to historical, sociological, and psychological context.
“It started with context and the idea that those who work in the media could bring readers and listeners a better understanding of what was going on in The Park and in the world outside The Park,” he said. “But, somehow, that devolved into embellishment and fictionalizing,”
Tinamou said metaphors are just one aspect of the problem, but they were something that he felt could be easily targeted.
“I thought we’d start with reducing metaphors and move on from there. But we seem to be stuck in this style of writing. I don’t think new journalists know any other way,” he said.
The mid-month statistics are in for Park media’s third annual Month Without Metaphor (MWM) and organizers say they won’t be giving out any gold stars this year unless things change significantly in the coming weeks.
“I’m surprised by these statistics. I thought we’d gotten our message across, but there’s a significant degree of slippage that’s occurred and I find it distressing,” organizer Alvin Tinamou said minutes after the report was released.
While the numbers are still slightly better than they were in MWM’s first year, they are “startlingly high,” Tinamou says.
“At this time last year, we were pleased with the results, but I take no pleasure in informing you that, on the whole, Park media has been embellishing its coverage of news more than we feel is warranted,” he said.
He did, however, praise a few publications for bringing in lower numbers. Those publications were The Avian Messenger (Tinamou’s own newspaper), The Halibut Herald, The Burro Beacon and Reptile Radio.
“And as usual,” Tinamou said, “The Marsupial Messenger has kept their metaphors to a bare minimum.”
Here are Month Without Metaphor’s mid-month results in full:
|Publication||Number of Infractions|
|Toro Talk Radio||278|
|The Dingo Boomerang||107|
|Marine Mammal Radio||112|
|The Mollusk Messenger||82|
|The Salamander Evening Post||94|
|The Silvestris Star||87|
|The Burro Beacon||56|
|The Noodlefish News||88|
|The Canary Courier||78|
|The Halibut Herald||65|
|Maple Tree Television||76|
|The Eagle Star||70|
|The Equine Echo||69|
|The Rodent Commoner||68|
|The Robin Reporter||72|
|The Galliforme Gazette||76|
|The Kaluga Register||65|
|The Cosmopolitan Pest||65|
|The Bluebird Free Press||59|
|The Insect Intelligencer||66|
|The Panther Post||86|
|The Polar Bear Post||66|
|The Avian Messenger||48|
|The Blackbird Informer||79|
|The Ornis Interpreter||47|
|The Mammalian Daily||55|
|The Raccoon Reporter||40|
|The Simian Spectator||50|
|The Marsupial Messenger||29|
Alvin Tinamou took to the airwaves this morning to dispute a claim that he paid some of The Park’s media outlets in exchange for their participation in Month Without Metaphor.
The publisher of the Avian Messenger and one of the organizers of the annual media event went on CLucK Radio at eight o’clock this morning to, as he said, “flatly deny” the claim made by the gossip side headsNtales.
“At no time did I even entertain the idea of offering compensation for participation,” Tinamou told interviewer Mayumi Manok.
Tinamou admitted he was worried about the participation numbers, but he told Manok that since Mammalian Daily managing editor Orphea Haas acquiesced to the pressure to name her reporters, “a large number” of media outlets had signed on.
“We’re not yet up to last year’s numbers, but we’re confident that we’ll get there,” Tinamou said.
As for the claim of compensation for participation, headsNtales co-founder Hortencia Guacamayo says she stands by her story.
“Tinamou can sing whatever song he chooses, but we have the facts and we can prove them,” she says.
CLucK Radio is owned by AVN Media, a Park-based media corporation whose holdings also include AVN Radio, and The Avian Messenger.
Three’s usually a charm, but it looks as if Park media’s third annual Month Without Metaphor could end up being anything but, unless more media outlets sign on to participate.[pullquote]What Haas has done is to change our focus. Instead of looking at ourselves, many Park media outlets are looking at The Mammalian Daily and asking why Haas feels justified in holding her paper to a different standard.—Alvin Tinamou, publisher of The Avian Messenger and Month Without Metaphor organizer[/pullquote]
The drop in the number of committed participants is “alarming” says Alvin Tinamou, who is one of the organizers of the May event.
“At this time last year, we were going great guns, to use an apt metaphor,” the publisher of The Avian Messenger wrote today in an open letter in his own newspaper.
“Our objective in establishing the annual Month Without Metaphor was to encourage Park media to be introspective. Accepting the challenge of reporting for a month without using metaphors means having to take a very close look at the way we communicate with our readers and how honestly we tell our stories. What Haas has done is to change our focus. Instead of looking at ourselves, many in Park media are looking at The Mammalian Daily and asking why Haas feels justified in holding her paper to a different standard. I challenge Haas to name her journalists and to stop distracting her readers by using tactics such as a ban on Human jokes,” he wrote.
Noburu Akita, Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Newspaper Activity in The Park (C-SNAP), says he agrees with Tinamou.
“Enough is enough,” he said in a radio interview this morning. “We’ve been calling for this for years and I think the time is right for Haas to make the change. We all [Park media] need to be open and transparent. To use a well-worn metaphor, we all need to be on the same page.”
Month Without Metaphor runs from May 1-May 31. Park media have until the end of April to sign on to participate.
Follow participants on Twitter at sansmetaphore.