- The Onion
This article is about the satiric news source. For the vegetable, see Onion. For other uses, see Onion (disambiguation).
The Onion Type Parody news organization Format Tabloid and website Owner Onion, Inc. Editor Joe Randazzo Founded 1988 Headquarters The Onion's corporate headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois; editorial offices are located in New York City, United States Circulation 400,000 Official website theonion.com Onion, Inc. Industry Publishing Founded Madison, Wisconsin, USA 1988 Founder(s) Tim Keck
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, USA Key people Steve Hannah (President and CEO), Mike McAvoy (COO), Mitch Semel (General Manager), Josh Modell (General Manager) Products The Onion newspaper, radio, video, books; The A.V. Club Employees 160
The Onion is an American news satire organization. It is an entertainment newspaper and a website featuring satirical articles reporting on international, national, and local news, in addition to a non-satirical entertainment section known as The A.V. Club. It claims a national print circulation of 400,000 and says 61 percent of its web site readers are between 18 and 44 years old. Since 2007, the organization has been publishing satirical news audios and videos online, as the "Onion News Network". Web traffic on theonion.com amounts to some 7.5 million unique visitors per month.
The Onion's articles comment on current events, both real and fictional. It parodies such traditional newspaper features as editorials, man-on-the-street interviews, and stock quotes on a traditional newspaper layout with an AP-style editorial voice. Much of its humor depends on presenting everyday events as newsworthy and by playing on commonly used phrases, as in the headline "Drugs Win Drug War."
A second part of the newspaper is a non-satirical entertainment section called The A.V. Club that features interviews and reviews of various newly released media, as well as other weekly features. The print edition also contains restaurant reviews and previews of upcoming live entertainment specific to cities where a print edition is published. The online incarnation of The A.V. Club has its own domain, includes its own regular features, A.V. Club blogs and reader forums, and presents itself as a separate entity from The Onion itself.
- 1 History
- 2 Distribution
- 3 Regular features
- 4 Reporters and editors
- 5 The Onion News Network
- 6 Film
- 7 The Onion taken seriously
- 8 Books
- 9 Fictional profile
- 10 See also
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson, juniors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, founded The Onion there in 1988. The following year, they sold it to Editor-in-Chief Scott Dikkers and Advertising Sales Manager Peter Haise for less than $20,000 ($16,000, according to the Washington Post; a 2003 Business 2.0 article reported the figure was $19,000). Reportedly, it was Chris Johnson's uncle, Wm. Nels Johnson, who came up with the idea to name the paper The Onion. "People always ask questions about where the name The Onion came from," said former President Sean Mills in an interview with Wikinews; "and, when I recently asked Tim Keck, who was one of the founders, he told me...literally that his uncle said he should call it The Onion when he saw him and Chris Johnson eating an onion sandwich. They had literally just cut up the onion and put it on bread." According to former Editorial Manager, Chet Clem, their food budget was so low when they started the paper that they were down to white bread and onions.
At first, The Onion was a success in a limited number of cities and towns, notably those with major universities (e.g. Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago). Originally the entire bottom three inches of the paper could be cut off for coupons to local Milwaukee and Madison establishments, such as inexpensive student-centered eateries and Four Star Video Heaven.
The creation of its website in 1996 allowed it to receive national attention. In 2000, as the publication had broken through to the mass market, The Onion was approached by Comedy Central for a buyout that would broaden the scope and reach of The Onion's brand of satire into other forms of media. In early 2001, the company relocated its offices to New York City. The paper continues to make occasional Madison references, placing odd stories in surrounding towns or running photographs of local landmarks to illustrate stories set elsewhere. In April 2007, The Onion launched The Onion News Network, a web video sendup of 24-hour TV news.
The paper's founders went on to become publishers of other alternative weeklies: Keck of the Seattle weekly The Stranger and Johnson of the Albuquerque Weekly Alibi.
Scott Dikkers is The Onion's longest-serving Editor-in-Chief (1988–1999, 2005–2008).
In January 2009, President Sean Mills left the company explaining that "the time has come for a new challenge."
In April 2009, The Onion was awarded a Peabody Award that noted "the satirical tabloid's online send-up of 24-hour cable-TV news was hilarious, trenchant and not infrequently hard to distinguish from the real thing."
In July 2009, various news outlets began reporting rumors of an impending sale of The Onion to a large media company. A further rumor indicated that such a sale would be announced on Monday, July 20, 2009. The purported sale was ultimately revealed as fictional Publisher Emeritus T. Herman Zweibel stating he'd sold the publication to a Chinese company, resulting in a week-long series of Chinese-related articles and features throughout the Onion website and publications. On Wednesday, July 22, 2009, The Onion Editor Joe Randazzo clarified the issue on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, saying: "I'm sure there are many Chinese conglomerates out there that would love to buy The Onion," he says. "We are, in fact, still a solvent independently owned American company."
In August 2011, The Onion's website began testing a paywall model requiring a $2.95 monthly or $29.95 annual charge from non-U.S. visitors who want to read more than about five stories within 30 days. "We are testing a meter internationally as readers in those markets are already used to paying directly for some (other) content, particularly in the UK where we have many readers," said Onion, Inc. chief technology officer Michael Greer. This new attempt at a paywall comes 6 years after the removal of the ill received Onion Premium paywall which launched in 2004 and was taken down in 2005.
In September 2011, it was announced that The Onion would move its entire editorial operation—including print & Onion News Network—to Chicago by the summer of 2012. The news of the move has left many of the writers—who moved with the publication from Madison, WI to New York City in 2000—“blindsided” putting them in a position to decide whether to uproot themselves from New York City and follow the publication to Chicago or not. Chicago is already home to the company's corporate headquarters. At a comedy show on Tuesday September 27, 2011 current editor-in-chief Joe Randazzo announced that he would not be joining the staff in Chicago.
The Onion's print edition is distributed free in Madison, Milwaukee, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver/Boulder, Austin, Omaha, Santa Fe, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Toronto, Ontario and Columbus. It is also sold in bookstores worldwide, including the United Kingdom, and is available by mail through paid subscription. From 2005 to 2009, Los Angeles and San Francisco editions were published but discontinued in May 2009 because of a lack of advertising revenue.
In October 2010, The Onion announced four new business partnerships with media organizations across the U.S. including The Denver Post, Austin American-Statesman, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Wisconsin State Journal. Under the terms of the agreements The Onion maintains complete creative control while the four partnering media companies assume business management responsibilities for the newspaper's local distribution. Shortly thereafter, The Onion announced a similar deal with The Philadelphia Inquirer that brought the paper to Philadelphia for the first time, increasing the total number of markets where The Onion is printed and distributed to ten.
Regular features of The Onion include:
- "STATshot", an illustrated statistical snapshot which parodies "USA Today Snapshots"
- The "Infograph" (a.k.a. "Infographic"), with a bulleted list of items on a theme.
- Guest opinion pieces and regular columnists
- Bizarre horoscopes
- "News in Photos", a feature with photographs of seemingly common or inconspicuous things labelled with captions revealing a hidden thing about it; the photos may also be of people, both famous and anonymous.
- "The ONION in History": A front page produced in the style/format of newspapers of an earlier era, from the book "Our Dumb Century"
- "In the News" photograph and caption with no accompanying story (such as "Frederick's of Anchorage Debuts Crotchless Long Underwear", "National Association Advances Colored Person", and "Owls Are Assholes")
- "American Voices" (formerly called "What Do You Think?"), a mock vox populi survey on a topical current event. There are three respondents, down from the original six, for each topic, who seem to have been chosen intentionally to represent a diverse selection of ages, races, and socio-economic classes. Although their names and professions change daily, photos of the same six people are always used. One of them is often described as a systems analyst.
- An editorial cartoon drawn by "Kelly", a fictional character; the cartoons are actually the work of Ward Sutton. The comic—the most controversial feature in The Onion—is a deadpan parody of conservative cartoons, as well as editorial cartoon conventions in general. Roughly half of the cartoons feature the Statue of Liberty, usually shedding a single tear.
The website was redesigned in 2005:
- All archives were returned to being free; and Onion Premium, a failed attempt at a paid-subscriber model section of the site, was discontinued.
- "What Do You Think?" became "American Voices," with the question updated every weekday, and only three responders for each question, instead of six.
- "In the News" was retitled "From the Print Edition"
- The Onion began publishing web-only content on a daily basis, such as a daily fictional stock market analysis titled "Stock Watch" (one of which appears in the print edition every week), a web opinion poll titled "QuickPoll" (since discontinued), "National News Highlights" of three regional stories, the cover of The Onion Weekender (a parody of PARADE magazine) The Onion Magazine (a parody of The New York Times Magazine), and OSN The Magazine (a parody of ESPN The Magazine) and The President's Weekly Radio Address.
- The nationally syndicated Onion Radio News, a brief audio clip read by anchor Doyle Redland, became a daily feature. In early 2006, Onion Radio News podcast was launched, and quickly shot to #1 on the iTunes list of top podcasts.
- A sports section was introduced, having archival material from old issues in addition to new articles (such as "Matt Leinart Wins Beauty Portion of 2006 NFL Draft") and rotating headlines such as "New York Rangers Honor Proud Madison Square Garden Tradition by Losing".
The Onion website is updated every day, most significantly (and historically before the move to daily updates) on Wednesday afternoons; and The Onion newspaper is distributed on Thursdays.
A genuine Personals Service is also offered by the website.
Reporters and editors
The current Editor of The Onion is Joe Randazzo; and the writing staff is Joe Garden, Todd Hanson, John Harris, Chris Karwowski, John Krewson, Chad Nackers, Seth Reiss, Baratunde Thurston, Will Tracy, Dave Kornfeld, and Jason Roeder. Past writers have included Mark Banker, Max Cannon, Amie Barrodale, Rich Dahm, Mike DiCenzo, Megan Ganz, Dan Guterman, Janet Ginsburg, Tim Harrod, David Javerbaum, Ben Karlin, Peter Koechley, Carol Kolb, Tom Scharpling, Maria Schneider, Robert D. Siegel and Jack Szwergold. Colin Tierney is the Editorial Graphic Designer & Michael Faisca and Nick Gallo are the Graphic Editors. The Onion does not accept unsolicited freelance contributions. The Onion News Network is produced by Will Graham, Julie Smith and Claudina Del Guidice. It is directed by Will Graham and J.J. Adler and the head writer is Carol Kolb, former Editor-in-Chief of The Onion. The other Staff Writers are Dan Mirk, Jack Kukoda, Sam West, Lang Fisher, and Chris Kelly.
The Onion News Network
In March 2007, The Onion launched The Onion News Network, a daily web video broadcast that had been in production since mid-2006, with a story about an illegal immigrant taking an executive's $800,000-a-year job for $600,000 a year. The Onion has reportedly invested about $1 million in the production and has hired 15 new staffers to focus on the production of this video broadcast. Carol Kolb, former Editor-in-Chief of The Onion, is the ONN's head writer; Will Graham is the showrunner and Executive Producer. On February 3, 2009, The Onion launched a spin-off of the ONN, the Onion Sports Network.
In a Wikinews interview in November 2007, former Onion President Sean Mills said the ONN has been a huge hit. "We get over a million downloads a week, which makes it one of the more successful produced-for-the-Internet videos," said Mills. "If we’re not the most successful, we’re one of the most. It is a 24 hour news network. We have a new show that is part of the platform, but we also have a Sunday morning talk show that’s called In The Know and we just launched a morning show this last week called Today Now. It has been really exciting; we’ll have some new shows, show some archive footage and do some more in sports over the next year."
In January 2011, The Onion launched two TV shows on cable networks. "Onion SportsDome" premiered January 11 on Comedy Central. Onion News Network premiered January 21 on IFC.
In March 2011, IFC officially announced the renewal of the "Onion News Network" for a second season.
In June 2011, Comedy Central officially announced the cancellation of "Onion SportsDome".
In August 2011, the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO announced the unionization of the "Onion News Network" writing staff, averting a potential strike which hinged on pay and benefits. It is also not the first time Onion, Inc. has been criticized for the way it treats its employees: In June 2011 "A.V. Club" Philadelphia city editor Emily Guendelsberger was the victim of an attack, and according to the Philadelphia Daily News, her job did not provide health insurance to cover hospital bills. According to the WGA, "ONN" was the only scripted, live-action program that had employed non-union writers. "The ONN writers stood together and won real improvements", said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson. “We welcome them into the WGAE and we look forward to a productive relationship with the company.” Peterson noted that more than 70 Guild members from all of the New York-based comedy shows signed a letter supporting the ONN writers, and hundreds of Guild members sent emails to the producers.
- Joe Amato as Glen Bannon and Michael Bannon
- Michele Ammon as Jean Anne Whorton
- Bobbie Battista as herself
- Beau Baxter as Reggie Greengrass
- Jeremy Beiler as Jason Copeland
- Bob Bowdon as Brian Scott
- Julie Brister as LauraLee Hickock
- Todd Alan Crain as Jeff Tate
- Esther David as Jane Carmichael
- Dorothi Fox as Nancy Fichandler
- Kyla Grogan as Andrea Bennett
- Lori Hammel as Leslie Hillerman
- Brad Holbrook as Jim Haggerty
- Brian Huskey as Duncan Birch
- George Riddle as Joad Cressbeckler
- Bobby Rivers as Robert Haige
- Tracy Toth as Tracy Gill
- Jennifer Dorr White as Julianna McKannis
- Suzanne Sena as Ana Gentry and Brooke Alvarez
To further invoke the atmosphere of a 24-hour network, The Onion News Network video series includes items lifted from what are ostensibly ONN news shows and continuing reports:
- Today Now!: TN is a parody of morning lifestyle and news programs such as NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America. Hosted by Jim Haggerty (in actuality, former New York City TV anchor Brad Holbrook) and Tracy Gill (portrayed by Tracy Toth), the style is typical of the breezy style often found in morning network television shows, with the presenters either uncritical or completely oblivious to the subject matter presented, regardless of the absurdity of the subject (e.g., Haggerty's earnest question about whether or not an omelet recipe strictly requires a metal shoe-horn to measure the butter into the pan).
- In The Know with Clifford Banes: A parody of Sunday morning pundit shows, ITK is hosted by Clifford Banes, who never actually appears on his own program due to a continuous succession of absurd or improbable circumstances, and is led by a guest host who explains why Mr. Banes cannot attend (e.g., "... filling in for Clifford Banes who is wandering along I-97 in a bathrobe with no memory of who he is"). An Onion-style current political event is examined earnestly by ITK's pundit panel from every angle regardless of how odd it might seem. In one 2011 skit, Clifford Banes apparently appeared. The actor playing Clifford Banes, however, was a woman (Julianna McKannis), who was "wearing a perfect latex mask".
- Beyond The Facts: A parody of evening news channels' news magazine programs. "BTF" is hosted by ONN's Jean Anne Whorton (a Diane Sawyer parody played by actress Michele Ammon); a former ONN prime-time anchor, known for her compassionate interviewing skills and her "great hair". Whorton has received three Gracie Awards (American Women in Radio and Television National Awards), and goes in-depth, exploring the soft underbelly of issues while nodding thoughtfully at the real story behind the headline.
- War For The White House: ONN's continuing coverage of Election '08, opening with a dramatic video apparently depicting Air Force One and a squadron of fighter planes seemingly attacking the White House, mocking the intense, over-the-top style that seems to have become typical in straight news coverage. Notable for its consistent use of military terminology (e.g. "Election Analysis Bunker") and deadpan style.
- O-SPAN: O-SPAN parodies the thoroughgoing coverage of Congress provided by C-SPAN, including spoof bill-readings on the House floor and spoof committee meetings.
- ONN-International: A parody of CNN-International, ONNI debuted November 2008. Boasting coverage in 152 languages over 811 countries and with 9 billion viewers, ONN-International presents news from around the world often with subtitles such as this story from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- OSN: A reference to ESPN, OSN usually features clips from SportsDome, a parody of ESPN's SportsCenter. The clips usually focus on specific parodies of SportsCenter segments such as the Budweiser Hot Seat, which becomes The Steam Room on OSN. Hosts present in the jocular style synonymous with ESPN and sportscasters on sets that are near-identical knockoffs of the SportsCenter studios. On January 11, 2011, cable network Comedy Central launched the "Onion Sportsdome", an off-shoot of the OSN feature, marking the first time an ONN feature became a full-fledged television series.
- News Room: Is a parody of breaking news segments that appear during commercial breaks or replays on 24-hour news networks. News Room, anchored by Andrea Bennett and Glen Bannon (a name check to Jeff Gannon of Talon News) is set in the fictional 24-hour cable news television network's news room with TV's and switchboards in the background.
- Raw Justice: A parody of news channels' popular documentaries on attention-grabbing crimes. It looks into ordinary crimes, although the reporter always finds a way to relate a story to the culprit's sexual actions such as "Man had sex with wife thousands of times before killing her".
- The Cressbeckler Stance: A parody of prime-time news commentary shows such as Hannity and Huckabee. Features commentary on political issues by former prospector Joad Cressbeckler, a character first introduced as a third-party presidential candidate, an even more "grizzled and ornery" alternative to John McCain, in a War For The White House segment.
After a commercial, each item is capped off by a teaser featuring a headline joke. The news reports also have a news crawl filled with joke headlines.
The Onion Radio News is an audio podcast featuring P. S. Mueller as fictional newscaster Doyle Redland.
FilmMain article: The Onion Movie
The Onion Movie is a direct-to-video film written by then-Onion editor Robert Siegel and writer Todd Hanson and directed by music video directors Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire.
Created in 2003, Fox Searchlight Pictures was on board to release the movie, originally called The Untitled Onion Movie, but at some point in the process, directors Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire and writer Robert Siegel walked away from the project.
In 2006, New Regency Productions took over the production of the troubled project. After two years of being in limbo, the film was released on DVD on June 3, 2008. It is now credited as being directed by James Kleiner but still written by Hanson and Siegel.
The Onion taken seriously
Upon occasion, the straight-faced manner in which The Onion reports non-existent happenings has resulted in third parties mistakenly citing The Onion stories as real news.
- In 1998, Fred Phelps posted The Onion article "'98 Homosexual-Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal" on his "God Hates Fags" website as "proof" that gay people were indeed actively trying to "recruit" others.
- On June 7, 2002, Reuters reported that the Beijing Evening News republished, in the international news page of its June 3 edition, translated portions of the article "Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built". The story discusses the U.S. Congress's threats to leave Washington for Memphis, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; or even Toronto, Canada unless Washington, D.C. built them a new Capitol building with a retractable dome. The article is a parody of U.S. sports franchises' threats to leave their home city unless new stadiums are built for them. Evening News initially stood by the story, demanding proof of its falsehood. It later retracted the article, responding that "some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them with the aim of making money."
- In late March 2004, Deborah Norville of MSNBC presented as genuine an article titled "Study: 58 Percent Of U.S. Exercise Televised".
- In 2006, the Danish television station TV 2 posted a story on the gossip section of its website that took seriously The Onion article titled "Sean Penn Demands To Know What Asshole Took SeanPenn@gmail.com"
- An article on Harry Potter inciting children to practice witchcraft was the subject of a widely forwarded email which repeated the quotes attributed to children in the article. Columnist Ellen Makkai and others who believe the Harry Potter books "recruit" children to Satanism have also been taken in by the article, using quotes from it to support their claims.
- In September 2009, two Bangladeshi newspapers, The Daily Manab Zamin and The New Nation, published stories translated from The Onion claiming Neil Armstrong had held a news conference claiming the moon landing was an elaborate hoax. Neither realized The Onion was not a genuine news site. Both of the newspapers apologized to their readers for not checking the story.
- In October 2009, the Russian news site Russia.ru repackaged clips from The Onion video piece "New Anti-Smoking Ad Warns Teens 'It's Gay to Smoke'" as legitimate news.
- In February 2010, among others the online newspapers Il Corriere della Sera (Italy) and Adresseavisen (Norway) repackaged clips from The Onion video piece "Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier" as legitimate news.
- In June 2010, the soccer website Sofoot.com (France) mistook for real news the article "Nation's Soccer Fan Becoming Insufferable", picked up the story and translated it partially on their own website under the title "La solitude du supporter ricain" ("The Yankee supporter's loneliness"). The article even ends with a kind word for the fake fan, telling him to be brave and to hang on.
- In November 2010, The Fox Nation website, a part of the Fox News network, mistook The Onion's article about President Barack Obama writing a 75,000 word e-mail complaining about America as a genuine report.
- In April 2011, the New York Times took an article that was several years old seriously. The article talks about President Obama on the cover of the magazine Tiger Beat with an image of the magazine inside.
- The blog Literally Unbelievable (started 2011) showcases posts from Facebook users who take various Onion articles seriously.
- In September 2011, United States Capitol Police investigated reports coming from The Onion's Twitter account claiming that US congressmen were holding twelve children hostage.
U.S. Presidential Seal dispute
In September 2005, the assistant counsel to President George W. Bush, Grant M. Dixton, wrote a cease-and-desist letter to The Onion, asking the paper to stop using the presidential seal, which is used in an online segment poking fun at the President through parodies of his weekly radio address. The law governing the Presidential Seal is contained in 18 U.S.C. § 713:Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. (emphasis added)
This section would seem to allow the use of the presidential seal by The Onion. However, by Executive Order, President Richard Nixon specifically enumerated the allowed uses of the Presidential Seal which is more restrictive than the above title (Executive Order 11649), but which allows for exceptions to be granted upon formal request.
The Onion has responded with a letter asking for formal use of the Seal in accordance with the Executive Order, while still declaring that the use is legitimate under 18 U.S.C. § 713. However, since Executive Order 11649 permits use of the Seal in the manner used by The Onion only with authorization of the Counsel to the President, use of the Seal by The Onion would imply that the required authorization had been obtained, and therefore doing so without such authorization would convey "a false impression of ...approval by the Government of the United States."
The letter written by Rochelle H. Klaskin, The Onion's lawyer, is quoted in the New York Times as saying "It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the president," referring to 18 U.S.C. § 713, but then went on to ask that the letter be considered a formal application asking for permission to use the seal.
Approval has not been given.
- Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source (1999, ISBN 0-609-80461-8)
- The Onion's Finest News Reporting, Volume 1 (2000, ISBN 0-609-80463-4)
- Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of The Onion (2001, ISBN 0-609-80834-6)
- The Onion Ad Nauseam: Complete News Archives Volume 13 (2002, ISBN 1-4000-4724-2)
- The Onion Ad Nauseam: Complete News Archives Volume 14 (2003, ISBN 1-4000-4961-X)
- "Fanfare for the Area Man": The Onion Ad Nauseam Complete News Archives Volume 15 (2004, ISBN 1-4000-5455-9)
- "Embedded in America": The Onion Ad Nauseam Complete News Archives Volume 16 (2005, ISBN 1-4000-5456-7)
- "Homeland Insecurity": The Onion Ad Nauseam Complete News Archives, Volume 17 (2006, ISBN 0-307-33984-X)
- Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth (Oct. 2007, ISBN 0-316-01842-2)
- Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America's Finest News Source (2009, ISBN 978-1439156926)
History and founding
Officially, the paper purports to be over 250 years old, having originally published in the mid 18th century. It was named the "Mercantile Onion" because those were the only two English words the paper's immigrant founder, Friedrich Siegfried Zweibel, knew at the time. (Zwiebel is German for "onion".) The newspaper's motto was originally Tu Stultus Es (Latin for "You are stupid").
In 1896 Zweibel's 20-year-old grandson, T. Herman Zweibel became editor, a position he supposedly holds to this day despite being over a century old and largely senile. For much of the 20th century the paper was highly reactionary and parodied the yellow journalism and sensationalism prevalent in print media during the early part of the century. It violently opposed every social reform the century brought forward, from women's suffrage to married characters sleeping together in the same bed on television. T. Herman Zweibel penned a weekly commentary until 2000, when he was rocketed into space toward the Andromeda galaxy, ostensibly leaving The Onion in the joint control of Bernard Baruch and Aunt Jemima.
In recent Onion Radio News releases, beginning December 15, 2008, the concluding ad for Our Dumb World has stated: "For over 350 years The Onion has given you the day's news...".
- 1756: Friedrich Siegfried Zweibel founded the Mercantile-Onion
- 1783: First edition of The Onion News-Paper, purporting to be the first newspaper to carry advertisements (namely for The King of Broil'd Meats and John Jameson's Miracle Concoction), is released.
- 1850: F. Siegfreid's son, Herman U., took over the company.
- 1888: T. Herman Zweibel, assumes editorial directorship
- 1892: Onion 24-Hour Television News Network (ONN) founded, preceding the advent of television. It can now be seen in 811 countries around the world by over 9 billion people.
- 1896: T. Herman Zweibel, F. Siegfried's grandson, took over the company, upon death of Herman U. Zweibel.
- 1922: Onion Radio founded.
- 1958: Zweibel was court-ordered to retire.
- 2000: Zweibel left Earth itself (The Final Frontier, T. Herman Zweibel).
- 2009: The Onion and all corporate holdings sold to a Chinese conglomerate, Yu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corporation.
- 2009: The Chinese conglomerate, Yu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corporation, having felt misled in its acquisition of The Onion, has placed The Onion up for sale less than one week after purchasing the paper.
Contributors and editors
The Onion's fictional editor is T. Herman Zweibel (Zwiebel is German for onion, and also close to the name Zweifel (German for "doubt"), a family closely associated with the Madison newspaper The Capital Times), who has "held the position since 1901" and is rather insane.
The Onion publishes several columns by (fictional) regular and guest writers, including:
- Jim Anchower, an upbeat but aimless slacker and stoner who freely discourses upon his difficulties with his over-accessorized, under-serviced Ford Festiva and with finding and maintaining regular accommodation and McJobs.
- Jean Teasdale, an overweight, occasionally employed, married but childless woman age around 40. Jean appears to be oblivious to her husband's alcoholism and philandering. Instead, she masks her depressing parochial life with a relentlessly upbeat attitude and delights in cheap kitsch collectibles and sentimental, Hallmark-style movies. Her column is called "A Room of Jean's Own" (a reference to A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf).
- Smoove B, a smooth talking ladies' man whose columns are directed toward his girlfriends or potential dates. He is known for describing his planned dates in extreme detail, often straying from the romantic to the mundane. The structure of the comedy consists of a series of romantic come-on lines, featuring cliched enticements such as cognac, chocolates, and massages, followed by a blunt sexual reference.
- Roger Dudek, an inept humor columnist whose feature, "Write On The Funny!", contains nonstop clumsy puns and similes, while demonstrating a casually abusive attitude towards members of his family
- Jackie Harvey, a parody of a celebrity-spotting gossip columnist, notable for incompetently spelling celebrity names
- Amber Richardson, a white, uneducated single mother who writes in African-American Vernacular English about her many misadventures in raising her illegitimate children including visiting the health clinic, constantly changing jobs as well as lovers, and defending her questionable qualifications in childrearing.
- Larry Groznic, an overweight, confrontational "fanboy" whose disagreements with friends over obscure nerd trivia are documented in hostile letters typically demanding conversion to his point of view. Groznic bears a resemblance to Comic Book Guy of The Simpsons, in both appearance and personality.
- Gorzo the Mighty, the Emperor of the Universe, villain in the style of Ming the Merciless.
- Department Head Rawlings, the mysterious head of an unnamed organization of international spies.
Former contributors include:
- Herbert Kornfeld, accounts receivable a geeky-looking, supervisor, an accountant who was raised on the streets and spoke in gangsta rap-isms and ebonics. He had an ongoing feud with the members of accounts payable. Killed on April 30, 2007.
- Arch Danielson, an elderly man who wrote "The Silver Screen", a series of rambling, non-sensical movie reviews that often diverted towards random topics. His persona was retired around 1998, in favor of Jackie Harvey.
In addition, The Onion has some recurring characters in its news stories, such as Don Turnbee, a 41-year-old from Erie who frequents fast-food establishments. Starting in 1997, reports of Turnbee's experiences describe his difficulties negotiating an all-you-can-eat buffet, food island etiquette, beverage top-ups, condiment sachet accumulation, and chronic indigestion. Headlines typically describe Turnbee as an "Area Man".
Similar satirical newspapers and magazines exist in many countries, including:
- The Chaser (Australia)
- Frank (Canada)
- The Clinic (Chile)
- Le Canard enchaîné (France)
- Titanic (Germany)
- Faking News (India)
- The Phoenix (Ireland)
- Inimigo Publico (Portugal)
- Academia Catavencu (Romania)
- Moskovskaya Komsomolka (Russia)
- El Jueves (Spain)
- Grönköpings Veckoblad (Sweden)
- Private Eye (UK)
- NewsBiscuit (UK)
- The St Neots Citizen (UK)
- The Daily Mash (UK)
- The Reporter[disambiguation needed ] (US)
- Kokqepa (Albania)
- Njuz.net (Serbia)
- ^ a b c Onion Nation, a November 16, 2008 Washington Post article
- ^ a b The Onion's Front Pages, a November 2, 2009 The New York Times article
- ^ Onion, Inc. contact page[dead link]
- ^ a b "The Onion Media Kit 2008". http://mediakit.theonion.com/national_print.html. Retrieved 2007-10-02
- ^ "Канал користувача TheOnion". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/theonion?blend=1&ob=4. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Blooming Onion, a January 1-, 2011 Chicago Tribune article
- ^ "The Onion: Funny site is no joke". Business 2.0 (CNN). 2003-08-29. http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/08/28/bus2.feat.onion.site/index.html. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- ^ Parodies of current events catch interest of unlikely readers, Kathlyn Hotynski, The Spectator (University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire), February 8, 2007.
- ^ a b c An interview with The Onion, David Shankbone, Wikinews, November 24, 2007.
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ Cyber Elite, Onion print editions Oct. 14–21, 1999, May 25-June 1, 2005, July 23–30, 2008
- ^ Steve Smith. "Sean Mills Peels From The Onion". MinOnline. http://www.minonline.com/news/9819.html. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Complete List of 2008 Peabody Award Winners from the Peabody Awards website
- ^ Sandoval, Greg (2009-07-15). "''No Joke: Report says ''The Onion'' discussing sale''". news.cnet.com. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10287280-93.html. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Ryan Tate (2009-07-17). "''Onion Sale Announcement Monday?''". Gawker.com. http://gawker.com/5317240/onion-sale-announcement-monday:. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ "''Well, I've Sold The Paper To The Chinese''". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/content/columnists/well_ive_sold_the_paper_to. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Ryan Tate (2009-07-20). "Chopped ''Onion'' Makes Us Cry". Gawker.com. http://gawker.com/5318527/chopped-onion-makes-us-cry. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ A New Owner For 'The Onion'? All Things Considered, July 22, 2009
- ^ The Onion Testing A Metered Paid Model paidContent:UK, August 5, 2011
- ^ The Onion’s CTO: Its paywall experiment is just that Nieman Journalism Lab, August 8, 2011
- ^ About The Onion's new paid content system... The A.V. Club, August 8, 2011
- ^ Onion Premium Notes from a Teacher, April 22, 2004
- ^ Onion Goes Premium CyberJournalist.net, April 22, 2004
- ^ The Onion moving to Chicago, leaves writers ‘blindsided’ Digital Journal, September 22, 2011
- ^ The Onion Could Move To Chicago, Forcing NYC Writers To Relocate Or Leave Huffington Post, September 21, 2011
- ^ The Onion to move editorial staff to Chicago headquarters Huffington Post', September 221, 2011
- ^ The Onion is Leaving New York FishbowNY, September 22, 2011
- ^ The Onion to move editorial staff to Chicago Chicago Sun-Times, September 22, 2011
- ^ The Onion editorial staff to move from New York to Chicago Poynter.org, September 22, 2011
- ^ The Onion Editor Joe Randazzo To Leave Ahead Of Chicago Move Huffington Post, September 29, 2011
- ^ Gilmer, Marcus (2009-05-27). "The A.V. Club comes to Omaha and Santa Fe". The Onion A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-av-club-comes-to-omaha-and-santa-fe,56691/. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- ^ Lu, Vanessa (27 September 2011). "The Onion to hit Toronto newsstands". Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1060474--the-onion-to-hit-toronto-newsstands. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
- ^ "'‘Onion’ coming to Columbus under deal with Dispatch". Columbus Business First. 2011-08-25. http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2011/08/25/onion-coming-to-columbus-under-deal.html. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- ^ Evangelista, Benny (2009-05-06). "''The Onion stopping its editions in S.F., L.A.''". SFGate.com. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/05/BU4917F6QADTL&type=business. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Alvarez, Alex (2010-10-22). "''Adding Layers: The Onion Announces New Media Partnerships''". Mediabistro.com. https://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/onion-media-partnerships_b18637?c=rss. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "''The Onion rolls into town with new Philly edition''". Newsworks.org. 2011-03-03. http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/14351-02pconion. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ a b Hackwork hacked, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2007, accessed April 27, 2007.
- ^ "Press ‘Play’ for Satire: March 23, 2007 The Wall Street Journal Article". March 23, 2007. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117459985897745975-mETUwZECHpnJSRMSyaQqQUA9x8A_20070421.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top.
- ^ "Onion SportsDome: Get Sportsed (YouTube Advertisement)". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqHv74MVm7A.
- ^ "Onion News Network - Fact Zone - Coming To IFC January 2011 (YouTube Advertisement)". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnOSo2QbnlU.
- ^ "Coming Soon: IFC Renews The Onion News Network Plus So Much More". http://www.ifc.com/blogs/ifc-now/2011/03/coming-soon-ifc-renews-the-oni.php.
- ^ "'Sports Show With Norm Macdonald,' 'Onion SportsDome' Canceled". http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/sports-show-norm-macdonald-onion-203420.
- ^ "'The Onion' Strike Possible: TV Show Embattled In Writers Guild Of America Standoff". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/29/the-onion-strike-writers-guild-of-america_n_913721.html.
- ^ "'Onion' Strike Averted: 'Onion News Network' TV Writers Join Writers Guild Of America". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/02/onion-news-network-tv-writers-unionized_n_916119.html.
- ^ "Onion News Network Writers Join Writers Guild Of America, East". http://www.wgaeast.org/index.php?id=263&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=2661&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=46&cHash=3e325a4733a3729b3c9b99eb195ba318.
- ^ "Onion News Network Writers Join WGA East Fold". Reuters. 2011-08-02. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/02/idUS111978029420110802.
- ^ "This Just In: WGA East Unionizes Onion News Network". http://www.deadline.com/2011/08/this-just-in-wga-east-unionizes-onion-news-network/.
- ^ "Onion News Network Writers Join WGAE". http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/08/02/onion-news-network-writers-join-wgae/.
- ^ "Chef Cooks 'Dream Omelet' From Recipe That Came To Him In A Dream". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/content/video/chef_cooks_dream_omelet_from. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Report: Baby Skull Jewelry May Be Linked To Violence". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/video/report-baby-skull-jewelry-may-be-linked-to-violenc,14402/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Ithe know with Clifford Banes". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/video/should-adults-be-allowed-to-bring-kids-to-rrated-m,20961/. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- ^ "Crime Reporter: Man Had Sex With Wife Thousands Of Times Before Killing Her". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/video/crime-reporter-man-had-sex-with-wife-thousands-of,14395. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/video/old-grizzled-thirdparty-candidate-may-steal-suppor,14264/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ The Untitled Onion Movie
- ^ "Wired 7.03: Award-Winning Local Journalists Reflect Own Self-Hatred Back on Nightmarish World*". Wired.com. 1969-07-21. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.03/onion_pr.html. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "article "Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built"". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27828. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Chu, Henry (June 8, 2002). "U.S. satire tricks Beijing paper / Satire fools Chinese paper / Daily steals, prints Onion article on plan for new Capitol". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/06/08/MN129538.DTL.
- ^ "Onion Taken Seriously, Film at 11"Wired,
- ^ "article "Study: 58 Percent Of U.S. Exercise Televised"". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32797. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "'Deborah Norville Tonight' for March 12", MSNBC
- ^ "article "Sean Penn Demands To Know What Asshole Took SeanPenn@gmail.com"". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/44460. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Hvem har hugget Sean Penns emailadresse?" (in Danish). TV 2. 2006-01-18. http://gossip-dyn.tv2.dk/article.php/id-3498191.html. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- ^ "Harry Potter Satanism", Snopes.com
- ^ "Harry the Wiz is the Wrong Biz", Creators.com via the Internet Archive
- ^ "One giant slip in Bangladesh news". BBC News. September 4, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8237558.stm. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
- ^ "RUSSIA.RU". V2.russia.ru. http://v2.russia.ru/video/news_6464/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "The Onion: 1000 - Corriere della Sera: 0". noiseFromAmeriKa. http://www.noisefromamerika.org/index.php/articles/The_Onion%3A_1000_-_Corriere_della_Sera%3A_0#body. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ Lars Von Trier med kontroversiell Danmark-reklame on Google Cache (the original article was deleted)
- ^ "Actu foot - News, classement, résultats et toute l'actualité Football sur". Sofoot.com. http://www.sofoot.com/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Nation's Soccer Fan Becoming Insufferable | The Onion Sports Network". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/articles/nations-soccer-fan-becoming-insufferable,17553/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "La solitude du supporter ricain". Sofoot.com. http://www.sofoot.com/la-solitude-du-supporter-ricain-127305-news.html. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail". The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/articles/frustrated-obama-sends-nation-rambling-75000word-e,18516/. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "The Onion | Fox Nation Onion | Fox News Onion". Mediaite. 2010-11-26. http://www.mediaite.com/online/foxnation-com-repurposes-anti-obama-article-from-the-onion-forgets-to-mention-its-a-joke/. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ Pompeo, Joe (2011-04-25). "News.yahoo.com". News.yahoo.com. http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thecutline/20110425/ts_yblog_thecutline/new-york-times-falls-for-onion-spoof. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ "Literally Unbelievable". Literally Unbelievable. http://literallyunbelievable.org/. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ Preston, Jennifer (2011-09-30). "The Onion’s Twitter Posts Draw Scrutiny". The New York Times. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/the-onions-hostage-tweets-draw-scrutiny/?hp. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
- ^ RandomPerspective.com (2005-10-28). "White House Sues "The Onion" to Cover up Iran Invasion Plan". Random Perspective. http://www.randomperspective.com/page.asp?1news/3/008. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Executive Order 11649--Regulations governing the seals of the President and the Vice President of the United States". American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=59106.
- ^ Protecting the Presidential Seal. No Joke. from The New York Times
- ^ "The Onion: Obama Attends The White House Maintenance Staff Annual Dinner (VIDEO)". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/03/the-onion-obama-attends-t_n_561225.html.
- ^ The Onion: Our Dumb Century
- ^ a b Zweibelmemorial.org Retrieved 2007-10-18.
- ^ "Retrieved 2008-11-30". Theonion.com. http://www.theonion.com/content/radionews. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "Retrieved 2007-10-18". Zweibelmemorial.org. http://www.zweibelmemorial.org/foundation2.php. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- ^ "The Onion Sells Itself to China, and a New Comedic Genre Is Born". Mother Jones. 2009-07-23. http://motherjones.com/riff/2009/07/are-we-witnessing-birth-new-comedic-genre. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- ^ Smoove B's page at The Onion.
- ^ Smoove B's columns at The Onion.
- ^ White-On-White Violence Claims Life Of Accounts Receivable Supervisor. The Onion. http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/white_on_white_violence. Retrieved 2007-10-02
- From Fake Newspaper to Real Serious, a New York Times profile on former editor Robert Siegel with insight on his tenure there
- Area Satirists Stay in the Picture from New York magazine
- Turning Fake News Into Real Careers from MSNBC[dead link]
- Wisconsin Wise Guys Plot TV Takeover from Broadcasting & Cable
- From the Onion to Comedy Central to the Oscars from the New York Times
- Viacom and The Onion: Parody or Deal? from a New York Times blog
- Reporting What the Public Wants to See 127 Years from Now, from The New York Times, 5 July 2010
The Onion Main projectsThe Onion · The A.V. Club Television Film Books Notable peopleMax Cannon · Rich Dahm · Scott Dikkers · Joe Garden · Tim Harrod · David Javerbaum · Carol Kolb · Nathan Rabin · Maria Schneider · Ward Sutton · Jack Szwergold · Stephen ThompsonCategories:
- The Onion
- Satirical publications
- Publications established in 1988
- Alternative weekly newspapers published in the United States
- Satirical websites
- Organizations based in Chicago, Illinois
- Companies based in Wisconsin
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