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'The Onion' makes me want to cry

Mike McAvoy is president of The Onion, which started as a satirical newspaper but has expanded into a digital media company featuring its comedic sensibility.

As topics such as 9/11 and suicides in the country become the butt of jokes, it seems impossible to offend anyone; younger generations are desensitized to what would otherwise shock people. However, that doesn’t stop satirical news organizations such as The Onion from trying.

The Onion was originally created as a weekly newspaper at the University of Wisconsin in 1988. In 2013, The Onion went online and stopped print production completely. The Onion has picked up power over time, transcending nearly every medium of news.

The level of success the organization has acquired over such a short time is admirable yet disconcerting. The fact that a news source publishing “news” with nearly no legitimacy points to a problem in the mindset of the public.

With headlines such as “Rover Hallucinates Water on Mars” and “Historians Admit to Inventing Ancient Greeks,” it is hard to believe that people could misconstrue the intention of these articles. This is not the case. More than one time, I have seen people commenting on Facebook shares of these articles, angrily trying to correct political incorrectness in the articles, unaware of the satirical theme in place.

When closely analyzed, it is clear that these articles are a joke; the site is fashioned like a legitimate news source, which further contributes to the confusion caused by the subject matter. In fact, the layout and design of the site is intended to poke fun at the redesigns of The Atlantic and The New York Times.

Not only does the news source make light of current events, but it also tries to confuse the ignorant majority.

And yet, the people who understand the intentions of this news source love it. As said by The Onion itself, the site “has never been more popular, more beloved, or more respected.” Although this is satirical in itself, it is true. My day wouldn’t be the same without my peers sharing links to the most popular articles on the site.

With the distortion present in media today, satirizing the news accomplishes nothing. The main focus in journalism should be to produce an unbiased source of information. According to a 2004 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey in which 547 journalists were questioned, about five times more journalists identify as liberal than conservative. 

Although The Onion does not identify itself as leaning one direction or another politically, it does provide articles with very little substance, posing unnecessary problems in a problematic industry.

Wasting the time of youth and serving as a means of distraction, The Onion has no place in the media. It is bad enough that the youth of the U.S. would prefer to view cat memes and watch make-up tutorials on YouTube than stay up-to-date on the happenings of the world. The Onion does not help this disconnect between the informed and the uninformed.

It contributes the ever-present ignorance among the younger generation, a beast that seems only to grow in power. Drawing us away from what is important, it keeps us in the dark. 

Related Links:

The Onion Comes to ASU

Presenters peel back funny layers of ‘The Onion’

Reach the columnist at or follow @ghirneise1 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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