Esteemed news source, The Onion, makes visit to University

Reed Widdoes, Contributing Writer

There was a plethora of laughter in the Weis Center on Oct. 27 when staff members and writers of the satirical news source The Onion visited the University. The event was hosted by the Campus Activities & Programs (CAP) Student Lectureship Committee.

After holding a workshop on the integration of humor and journalism for members of The Bucknellian, the ’Nell Party, and We Brake for Nobody, Deputy Managing Editor Marnie Shure, Staff Writer Matt Hunziker, and Video Writer Mike Gillis presented at the Weis Center in a panel-based discussion.

The writers and editor began by touching upon the “fabled” history of The Onion, which dates back to 1765, and recounted the story of how the publication achieved its monumental “4.3 trillion” daily readers.

Afterward, they broke character to discuss the long and detailed process that goes into preparing an article for the site. Each idea, they explained, goes though a rigorous brainstorming session before making its way to a writer’s desk, in which ideas are pitched solely by their headlines. Many writers will come into brainstorming sessions with upwards of 25 headlines each. This collaborative process often involves contribution from up to 15 different staffers by the time an article is completed.

The three panelists talked briefly about Onion articles that were mistakenly taken seriously in the past. One example was the headline “Kim Jong-Un named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive” in 2012. The panelists also recounted the time when Republican U.S. Representative John Fleming mistakenly posted an Onion article entitled “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” to his personal Facebook.

The panelists took time to recount their favorite articles, even their favorite ideas that never made it past the drawing board. Finally, after answering questions from the audience, the panel was moved into the lobby for a meet and greet with students.

“The Onion was not a normal speaker you would see on campus because it wasn’t purely academic focused,” Student Lectureship Committee member Melody Sonnemann ’18 said. “But, there were over 200 people in attendance, and I felt that everyone who came was really engaged. The Onion staffers were great because they are examples of people who are smart and talented, but like to poke fun at themselves and others in less strenuous and serious ways.”

’Nell Party member Alex Hutchins ’19 was especially grateful to have the opportunity to meet with the writers.

“I’m glad the members of The Onion came to Bucknell for this panel as it allowed me to get an inside look into how one of my favorite satire news sites operates on a daily basis,” Hutchins said.

This sentiment seemed to be shared by all those in attendance, as even after the panel, there was a large crowd gathered for the meet and greet. By the time that The Onion staff had left, it was obvious that students enjoyed laughing and learning about such an “esteemed” news source.

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