It looks like TheOnion.com and Univision’s other satirical websites will soon be about 15 percent less funny. Maybe 14. Or it could be 16.
Like many giant media companies anticipating rough waters in recent years, Univision had this really great idea to spread out and diversify its appeal. Its goal was to attract younger, Spanish-language fans who often consume media online in English. It did the same when it bought the Gizmodo Media Group, including the now-defunct Gawker site, Deadspin, Jezebel and the Root.
But then Univision’s dream of an IPO died earlier this year. And now just a month into the reign of new CEO Vince Sadusky come trade reports that Univision is about to start negotiations with editorial staff of the Onion and its affiliated sites, Clickhole, the A.V. Club and The Takeout to arrange buyouts before actual layoffs.
Onion sites attract a collective 120 million unique monthly users. But market analysts speculate the new executive team may be changing course again.
These cuts aren’t funny to millions of fans. In fact, anytime you see someone in public inexplicably erupt in laughter, it’s obviously because they just read, heard or remembered an Onion headline. The Titanic sinking: “World’s Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-Berg.” “‘First Date Going Really Well,’ Thinks Man Who Hasn’t Stopped Talking Yet.”
The Onion can be obscene and often hilariously insensitive: “Terror Experts Warn Next 9/11 Could Fall on Different Date.” “Science Guy Bill Nye Killed In Massive Vinegar/Baking Soda Explosion.” “Craigslist Server Contracts HPV.” “Bunch of Phonies Mourn JD Salinger.”
The Onion once named Kim Jung-un the sexiest man alive. And its satire domestically is unexpectedly bipartisan. On Clinton’s inauguration: “New President Feels Nation’s Pain, Breasts.” On George W. Bush taking office: “Our Long National Nightmare of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over.”
It defined Sean Spicer’s role as Trump press secretary as providing “the American public with robust and clearly articulated misinformation.”
Obama running for office: “‘I Would Make a Bad President,’ Obama Says in Huge Campaign Blunder.” Or “1 in 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus.” “Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built.”
The Onion has an iconic kitten (not this one) “who thinks of nothing but murder all day.” “Uneducated Forklift Driver To Address Nation On Rush Limbaugh Show.” “16,000 Diamondbacks Fans Killed on Complimentary Rattlesnake Night.”
My favorite Onion video was coverage of spectators gathering by the thousands for the annual parade of ninjas, who marched by so stealthily nobody saw them. But spectators later found candy in their pockets.
Oh, and then…..