Search - List of Books by The Onion
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 690,000 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".
The Onions 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.
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, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boulder). Originally the entire bottom two inches of the paper could be cut off for coupons to local 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 Onions 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).
Dave and Jeff Haupt were the first entities ever to franchise The Onion in 1995 when they purchased the ten-year rights to The Onion name for a shockingly small one-time $25,000 and licensed content for $200 and $500 a week from then-Business Manager Peter Haise. Jeff Haupt has called this a "really good deal." According to Dave and Jeff Haupt, The Onion was "...on the brink of bankruptcy..." and they were the only solvent Onion entity out there. Without their financial help The Onion would not have been kept alive long enough to survive a buyout by David Schafer of the $850-million Schafer Cullen Capital Management, the entity that saved the company from full bankruptcy and is responsible for its stability today.
In January 2009, President Sean Mills...who was responsible for The Onions business-operations turnaround and growth in New York City...suddenly 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."
The Onion's print edition is distributed free in Madison, Milwaukee, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver/Boulder, Austin and Washington, D.C. 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.
Regular Features more less
Regular features of The Onion
- "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
- "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 more less
The current Editor of The Onion is Joe Randazzo; and the writing staff is Joe Garden, Dan Guterman, Todd Hanson, John Harris, Chris Karwowski, John Krewson, Chad Nackers, Seth Reiss, Baratunde Thurston, and Will Tracy. Past writers have included Mark Banker, Max Cannon, Amie Barrodale, Rich Dahm, Mike DiCenzo, Megan Ganz, Janet Ginsburg, Tim Harrod, David Javerbaum, Ben Karlin, Peter Koechley, Carol Kolb, Tom Scharpling, Maria Schneider, Robert D. Siegel and Jack Szwergold. 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 more less
In March 2007, The Onion
launched The Onion News Network
, a daily web video broadcast that had been in production since sometime in 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; and 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
. It has been announced that ONN will produce an "Onion Sports Network" pilot for Comedy Central, and there's rumored to be an ONN news show in the works as well.
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."
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 requires strictly 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., "because he is plummeting toward Earth at ninety-three miles an hour". An Onion-style current political event is examined earnestly by ITK's pundit panel from every angle regardless of how odd it might seem.
- 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.
- 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 cable news 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".
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.
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 more less
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. Wired 7.03: Award-Winning Local Journalists Reflect Own Self-Hatred Back on Nightmarish World*
- 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 believed by many to be real and 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.
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. Random Perspective: White House Sues “The Onion” to Cover up Iran Invasion Plan The law governing the Presidential Seal is contained in :
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 (), 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 . 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 , but then went on to ask that the letter be considered a formal application asking for permission to use the seal. Protecting the Presidential Seal. No Joke. from The New York Times
- 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)
- 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)
Total Books: 27
Fictional Profile more less
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. ("" is German for onion.) The newspaper's motto was "", or 'You are stupid' in Latin.
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 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. It can now be seen in 811 countries around the world.
- 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
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 automobile 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.
- Amber Richardson, an uneducated single mother who writes 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.
- 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 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".