All the birds in the forest sat in the trees on branches where there were reams of leaves, even so they agreed they wanted the leaves of a good journal, they longed for a critical publication, such as humans have so many of that half will do. The songbirds wanted a musical critique that praised their own singing and found fault with that of others, wherever faults were to be found. But they were unable to agree about finding impartial critics among the birds, ‘A bird, though, it will have to be,’ said the owl, who had been elected president of the assembly and is the bird of wisdom, ‘one can hardly choose from some other part of the animal kingdom unless perhaps from the sea, there fishes fly as birds do in the air, but that is also the only thing they have in common. But there are still plenty of animals between fish and fowl.’
Then the stork took over, his beak clacking. ‘They are creatures between fish and fowl: the children of bog-water, the frogs, are who I vote for. They are extremely musical, sing in chorus, like church bells in the solitude of the forest. I feel the urge to travel abroad!’ the stork said, ‘an itching under my wings when they strike up.’
‘I vote for the frogs too,’ the heron said, ‘they are neither fish nor fowl, live among the fishes yet sing like birds. ‘
‘That was the musical aspect,’ the owl said, ‘but the journal must also deal with everything that is beautiful in the forest, there must be members of staff. Let us ponder the matter in our separate families.’
Then the little lark trilled so cheerfully and beautifully: ‘The frog must not be in charge of the journal, no, the nightingale.’
‘Stop your chirruping!’ the owl said, ‘I’m hooting for order. I know the nightingale, we are both of us night-birds; each bird sings with its own beak, so neither he nor I ought to be chosen. For then the journal would become an aristocratic or a philosophical journal, a superior journal, where those of rank reign supreme, it must also be a voice for the common man.’
They disagreed as to whether it should be called the Morning Croak, or the Evening Croak or just Croak. The last-mentioned was decided on.
They now needed proficient – or considered proficient – staff.
The bee, the ant and the mole promised to write about industrial and engineering matters, subjects about which they had great insight.
The cuckoo was the nature poet, not counted among the songbirds, though of great importance for the common man. ‘He is always vaunting himself, he is the vainest bird of all, though nothing much to look at,’ the peacock said.
Then the blowflies came to the editor in the forest. ‘We offer our service. We know human editors, human criticism, one lands on a piece of fresh meat and blow on it, it is rotten within twenty-four hours, we could destroy anyone’s talent completely if necessary in the service of the editors. As a party one can be so highly placed a journal that one can dare ride rough-shod and should one lose a subscriber gain ten instead. Be coarse, give nicknames, make a laughing stock, whistle with one’s fingers, like the League of Youth, then you become a force to be reckoned with within the state.’
‘What an aerial vagabond!’ the frog said about the stork; ‘when I was little, I really looked up to him and felt a quivering reverence, and when he walked around in the marshes and talked about Egypt, he broadened my horizon to strange, marvellous lands, but now he doesn’t elevate me any more, there is only an echo left, I have become wiser, thoughtful, important, I supply critical articles to Croak. I am what is referred to in The Correct Spelling and Pronuncuation of the Danish Language as a Croaker! There are also such people in the human world. I have written a piece about it in the bottom section of our journal.’