Two writers from the satirical news organization, The Onion, visited UCA on Nov. 13 as part of the pop culture portion of the university’s Student Activities Board fall 2013 line-up.
Senior Onion writer Jermaine Affonso and staff writer Seena Vali spent most of the presentation educating the audience about the history and prominence of “America’s Finest News Source.”
“The Onion was founded in 1765,” Vali said, evoking the first of many bursts of laughter from the audience throughout the night.
Vali and Affonso continued to relay The Onion’s fabricated history, showing audience members some of the best stories the organization covered over the centuries. Affonso also showed an article from 2056, saying the news organization is so “vastly superior” to other journalistic outlets that it can accurately report stories in the future.
The Onion covers a large variety of topics, including politics, sports, education, business and even local news. Because The Onion writes its stories so well, Vali mentioned that many of its articles get taken seriously—even to the point of being picked up by major news organizations.
In November 2012, The Onion ran a story with the headline, ”Kim Jong-Un Named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.”
The article was then picked up by The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party.
Vali went on to explain the story ran in The People’s Daily along with a 55-photo slideshow featuring Kim Jong-Un, mostly on horses.
Affonso said that with being taken seriously comes criticism.
One article from The Onion featured a quote from business mogul Donald Trump, to which a representative from Trump’s staff commented that these words are false and should be taken down immediately or else legal action would ensue.
After the presentation and jokes ended, Affonso and Vali took questions from the audience. Most audience members were interested in how a person applies for a job or internship with The Onion, while some asked the two writers about personal and favorite experiences they’ve had while employed at the organization.
“I loved how their presentation had the same voice as pieces in The Onion,” senior Emily Beane said. “Although it was kind of awkward hearing comments from audience members who didn’t realize it was a satirical newspaper at first.”
Beane said she learned a lot about The Onion as a whole and now has an entirely new appreciation for what they do.
Affonso said this was their first time not only at UCA, but in Arkansas. He said the event was a fun experience and that he enjoyed meeting people from the area.
“I thought [the event]went great,” Vali said. “There was a lot of people, they asked really good questions and they responded well to the headlines. I thought it was awesome.”