The Onion's A-peel

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

You're probably well aware of The Onion online, which features snarky stories (that often lampoon our fair NPR). But did you know it's also a newspaper... and a reasonably successful one at that? That may sound like faint praise, but in a day and age when newspaper circulations are dropping and news organizations grasp at straws to draw eyes (and ears), it's pretty remarkable. Personally, The Onion's newspaper boxes are the first new ones I've seen pop up around D.C. in ages, and they're always emptied as soon as a new edition comes out. Then again, commuters provide quite the captive audience for all sorts of print media, so maybe we're an exception. At any rate, The Onion's managed to do what it does quite well. It isn't really news, even less so than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's shows, and that seems to be just what we want. Why do you pick up (or bookmark) The Onion?



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Lets remember that most "traditional newspapers" are interested in getting advertising from the local businesses... they can't afford to be "blatenly honest" when your wanting businesses to buy into advertising.

Sent by Tom Fenix | 2:50 PM | 10-23-2007

When I see a stranger reading the Onion, I know we would get along. Eventually we're all ribbed in the Onion at one time or another. I'm in Accounts Receeeevable, myself.

Sent by Lynn Ashfeld | 2:52 PM | 10-23-2007

Perhaps the causal link suggested here is backward. The Onion is not responsible for edifying their audience. (Nor should it be burdened with that responsibility.) Instead, it attracts readers that already understand current events and trends in media. You won't get the joke if you haven't done your research.

Sent by Ed Rogers | 2:54 PM | 10-23-2007

I think that the conversation about the Onion is really missing the mark.

The Onion, The Daily Show, ... are all hits because they admit that news in the US has become infotainment and play on that. They do not try to package their infotainment as "real" news like newspapers, CNN, the networks, Fox, etc. all do.

Sent by Mitch Vanderperren | 2:55 PM | 10-23-2007

The honest fact is I don't read the Onion. So far as I know it is NOT ITSELF actual news but rather a counterfeit or cukoos egg version of same. A conflation of sorts which displaces the "true gen".

"No Sale" here.

H.G. Taylor
Tucson AZ.

Sent by H.G. Taylor | 2:57 PM | 10-23-2007

As someone who speaks in 95% sarcasm, it's like it was written just for me. Now, can I have a job?

Sent by J. Foster | 3:01 PM | 10-23-2007

The Onion has an interesting take on the news, but there is a new site (granted not in print yet) which also covers the days events in a very funny, satirical and cutting edge way. I see the Onion as the old guard. CAP News is a breath of fresh air. It is unfortunate that in many cases sites like these and the Daily Show are closer to the truth or the rest of the story than mainstream media. We need these voices to inform the public.

Sent by Judy Murray | 3:04 PM | 10-23-2007

I would like to add or clarify that the appeal of the Onion. In The Onion there is a voice behind the reporters. In traditional news sources, despite the best efforts of reporters there is always an opinion element. But are masked behind carefully selected facts and constructed wording to sway the reader to an opinion or group of opinions. I feel the reason The Onion, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report are so popular is that they do not pretend to give unbiased news. Therefore the reader can relax, knowing that the news is indeed biased (as they always suspected) and enjoy the story instead. Afterall fact is stranger than fiction and often more entertaining.

Sent by Jennifer Redig | 3:20 PM | 10-23-2007

The Onion finds no problem in poking fun at absolutely everyone. I doubt that's what traditional news sources should be doing. As a teen I suppose it's difficult to filter good news from the bad, especially with the sort of events people classify as important--some celebrity getting their third DUI or not wearing panties for just about the fiftieth time. The Onion takes news at a different approach--it emphasizes the problems in society without blatantly stating them or pointing out people's flaws. And its honesty is probably the most appealing aspect--they say what people are afraid or reluctant to say themselves.

Sent by Thy Vo | 12:53 AM | 10-24-2007