It's just snow. Leave Olympus out of it.

Two days ago I posted on Facebook and Twitter: "Neither storm 'Jonas' nor 'white stuff' has appeared in the paper on my watch."

Several fellow journalists indicated their approval, but some readers thought that naming winter storms is a good idea, that it helps share information. And what about the naming of hurricanes, huh?


One respondent said that the National Weather Service has been naming winter storms for years, adding: "So John, when you disallow it in the name of ...what, personal standards?... I think it is an example of someone with a big red pencil not being well informed." (This worthy, subsequently better informed, conceded that it is the Weather Channel, not the National Weather Service, that has taken to naming winter storms.)

Let's take the issue point by point.

Item: I dislike the anthropomorphizing of nature, at least in journalism. In poetry it has some life left, but in daily journalism it is a stale device. If I delete references to "Mother Nature" and "Jack Frost," typically the reader is deprived of nothing more than a cliche.

Item: The naming of hurricanes is such a long tradition, with the stamp of official approval, that it would be futile to oppose, though we managed some resistance to "Superstorm Sandy." At least the weather service has incorporated male names, and the Associated Press Stylebook says not to use male or female pronouns in referring to storms.*

Item: The assigning of pretentious or ludicrous names to winter storms is a stunt initiated by the Weather channel to boost viewership. (Do you have vivid memories of Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Gandolf, Khan, and Nemo? Are you braced for the possible arrival of Ilias, Lola, Quo, Ursula, Vexo, or Waylon? Is it a storm of a video game?) This is of a piece with their efforts to stir up panic among the credulous, much as Fox News and MSNBC gin up the audience's outrage to keep the marks coming back.

Item: My distaste for cooperating with the Weather Channel's hype extends to other forms of hype to which journalists are oddly susceptible. If I had my way, the paper would not run anything about Time magazine's promotional "Person of the Year," which was superficial even when people still took Time seriously, or PNC Bank's annual laborious accounting of the costs of the gifts enumerated in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

There is an element among the public that enjoys such codswallop, but it's a perfectly respectable editorial decision to choose otherwise.

*Yes, this is a point on which I wholeheartedly endorse the AP Stylebook editors' advice. Now, don't get cocky.