Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Onion, New York City

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Onion, New York City

Article excerpt

The Onion? Hey, don't laugh. Well, actually, do laugh -- because that's what they want.

But the success of the Onion, the weekly mix of outright fake news, commentary, and real arts-and-entertainment coverage, is far from a joke. Promoting itself as "America's Finest News Source," the witty chronicle has grown from a small student publication at the University of Wisconsin to a major circulation and advertising powerhouse, equipped with a formidable, user-friendly Web site with all of the modern online offerings of any 21st- century newspaper.

And what other newspaper can boast a 60% circulation increase in just three years, especially in today's diminishing newspaper market?

Editor in Chief Scott Dikkers, who was with the paper when it launched in 1988, says that smart writing always has to come first. Then there are its trademark headlines, including gems like "Decency Accidentally Bred Out of Human Race," "Buttery Goodness Now America's Top Domestic Product" and the classic "Clinton Forced to Kneel Before Zod."

"I think people get enough real news," says Dikkers of his paper's slant. He notes a distinct difference between Onion humor, which has little basis in real news or fact, and "The Daily Show" (which the paper undoubtedly influenced) and SNL's "Weekend Update." They mostly satirize actual people or events.

Many cite the Manhattan-based Onion's Sept. …

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