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A New Owner For 'The Onion'?

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A New Owner For 'The Onion'?


A New Owner For 'The Onion'?

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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America's finest news source has been bought. If you don't think the satirical paper The Onion is America's finest news source, just look at the front page - it says so every day. Although, today it says: America's Finest News Source and Salvage Fishery.

The paper was sold to a conglomerate based in Sichuan Province, China, the Yu Wan Mei Corporation, Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp. Joe Randazzo is the editor of The Onion, and he joins us. How did this happen?

Mr. JOE RANDAZZO (Editor, The Onion): Ni hao, Robert. It's a great honor to be here. As you know, the American newspaper and print industry has been in great, great decline. And The Onion was at a point of great vulnerability, crouched like an injured dog in the corner. And the Yu Wan Mei group came, saw this as an opportunity to at once extend its reach into the Western world, and to also provide benevolent support for The Onion in its great time of need.

SIEGEL: In other words, you sold out, is what you're saying.

Mr. RANDAZZO: We were purchased in a very honorable way by the Yu Wan Mei Corporation at our time of need.

SIEGEL: Now, not that this has affected your editorial policies much, but I do see that you have a story today: Three dozen confirmed blank - it's blacked out - in power plant blank, and then the story has many blanks after that.

Mr. RANDAZZO: The note that I was given from my superiors is that that was a printing error.

SIEGEL: And then we have on Onion Radio, from the most trusted man in America, Doyle Redland.

(Soundbite of radio news broadcast)

Mr. DOYLE REDLAND (Anchor, Onion Radio News): A ping-pong champion credits his victory to a nutritious diet of fish byproducts. It's the Onion Radio News brought to you by Yu Wan Mei, home of natural lizard oils.

SIEGEL: Now, what was that about?

Mr. RANDAZZO: You know, the table tennis athletes of China are some of the greatest athletes in the world. They work harder than most American athletes. They have more honor, pride and respect for their sport and for their elders and community. And I think this was just a chance for us to highlight that.

SIEGEL: But Doyle Redland goes on to flog fried krill chips.

Mr. REDLAND: They're delicious.

SIEGEL: The publisher emeritus of The Onion, T. Herman Zweibel, he writes in today's paper explaining the sale: I may be a newspaper man through and through, but I still have some sense in my 141-year-old skull to abandon some silly centuries-old loyalty to the periodical page when there are spacious coffers to be stocked.

Mr. RANDAZZO: Well, The Onion's always been a one-way conduit for information. We disdain our readers. If it weren't necessary to have readers, I don't believe that we would. And, also, may I add, that fish time is success time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: We should acknowledge here that we are talking about The Onion, a satirical paper. And while there is much truth about Chinese economic strength in the state of the newspaper business, in what you've done here, this is satire.

Mr. RANDAZZO: Yes. While I'm sure there are many Chinese conglomerates out there that would love to buy The Onion, we are, in fact, still a solvent, independently owned American company.

SIEGEL: Editor Joe Randazzo, thanks a lot for talking with us.

Mr. RANDAZZO: Thanks so much, it was my pleasure. Ni hao.

SIEGEL: And once again, the story in the current issue of The Onion that it's been purchased by a Chinese conglomerate is, in fact, only satire.

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