WASHINGTON—A consortium of Pulitzer Prize winners announced Monday that its members were wracked with feelings of shame and inadequacy knowing that, given The Onion‘s continued lack of recognition by the Pulitzer Board, they clearly had received awards they did not deserve. “This prize is a farce,” said investigative journalist and winner of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting Seymour Hersh, adding that The Onion‘s “searing” coverage of the My Lai Massacre far exceeded his own in breadth and insight. “I don’t feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I look at my Pulitzer. Instead, I feel angry, like my whole career is a sham. I keep my prize in the bottom of a drawer in my garage so I don’t have to be confronted by its lies.” Hersh then offered to do penance by working in The Onion mail room for free.
I was roused from an unusually restful sleep yesterday for reasons utterly alien to a news-paper publisher: a meeting with the normally biddable and pliant Onion Board of Directors and, more unusual even than that, with the burgeoning horde of miscellaneous and endlessly multiplying functionaries who refer to themselves as my executive editors. For them to request an audience is oddly courageous, considering I care-fully cultivate cowardice in my direct underlings, and I knew it could only mean one thing: On the occasion of this, our 1,000th issue, a fresh generation of Onion employees must think it desirable to seek Pulitzer’s eternally God-damned Prize!
As any diligent student of American journalism, history, and criminology knows full well, I have been at war with Joseph Pulitzer since the start of his measly little career. At first, he showed a measure of promise, and was one of the leading lights among Onion copyboys, cheerfully going about his work, always busy, never requesting fresh crusts or more sleeping-hay. But then he contracted a disease that any publisher or editor worth his salt will tell you is death in the news-paper business. He began asking questions. “Why are the cartoons not in color? Why are Mr. Zweibel’s editorials about the Whigs when most of them are long dead? Does manipulating the masses with appeals to their baser instinct sell a lot of papers?” All he got for his trouble was a box on the ear, but that did not deter him. Neither was he swayed when we beat him with straps and kicked him out into the February storms to die of exposure, as was the tradition in those more virile times.
Some-how he not only survived, but started up his own news-paper, the World, shortly after-wards. I will give him credit for being a horsehide-bound, brass-plated son-of-a-bitch, but not for being a news-paper-man! He was a loath-some panderer who could not even start a simple war with Spain without help from that other fulminating ass-hole, William Randolph Hearst. And yet not two decades later, he set up a prize foundation to honor achievements in the news-paper and writing fields! At least I have the gumption and back-bone not to pretend I am saving the world with one hand while penning warmongering missives to President McKinley with the other. I believe to this day that Cubans should be boiled alive in their filthy rum-barrels, and my editorials reflect that.
Also, with the exception of Margaret Mitchell’s excellent work of history, Gone With The Wind, every single person or publication to win the Pulitzer Prize has been undiluted sewage.
And now my mewling, puking editors, mere boys reeking of the damp clutch of their wet-nurses, tell me the Pulitzer is desirable, and seen as a mark of quality for the readers. For the readers! Have they listened to a single word I have ever said? Readers are of scant importance to a news-paper, and the very idea of integrity and rigor in journalism has been shown to frighten away even the hardiest of advertisers, even the marauding manufacturers of high-tension liquors, whore’s rags, and insurance who have stood by us through all else!
But for revenge? That is an all-together different matter! I am told that Pulitzer himself is dead, struck down by the heart-attacks on his yacht, a scow of infamy whose hold was no doubt stocked with the peachy ethanol his besotted Hungarian ilk gulp down by the cask-full. As an affront to his hatred of everything I stand for, I can think of no better revenge than for The Onion to receive the prize that bears his name.
So enjoy these Pulitzer-worthy offerings, you self-congratulatory, self-centered, self-styled intellectuals! Here are stories hewn from the very living bedrock of journalism, carved into perfect inverted pyra-mids by editorial masons, and held together with the honeyed mortar of earnest-ness and popular sentiment. If these are not worthy of Pulitzer’s jumped-up, scrap-heap medallion, then I do not know what is.
The Onion Radio News has been the most highly regarded broadcast news source in the world since visionary Onion publisher T.Herman Zweibel made the bold move in 1922 to shut down the popular Onion Telegraph News and focus on the then embryonic medium of radio. From day one Zweibel intended to employ this new technology for the public good, and for the first two years he devoted much of his airtime to denouncing silent film actress Louise Brooks.
Overnight, Zweibel’s vitriolic attacks gained sufficient listenership to attract wealthy sponsors like Campbell’s Liquid Beef and Spotto potato detergent. The financial success of the Onion Radio News led Zweibel to hire professional “pronouncers,” as they were called then, who were charged with the important task of reading items from the printed version of The Onion to fill time between Zweibel’s marathon anti-flapper rants.
In 1947, a polyp the size of a Concord grape on Zweibel’s vocal cords forced him to stop his nightly rants, allowing the Onion Radio News to finally become one of the first 24-hour news outlets.
Today the Onion Radio News, anchored by Doyle Redland, continues to inspire and inform millions of listeners around the world and has become the living embodiment of the power of the spoken news word.
WINDSOR, NC—Still struggling to cope in the aftermath of an F3 tornado that ripped through town last week, citizens expressed gratitude to this newspaper for its meritorious in-depth coverage of the tragedy, lauding the publication’s ability to deliver aggressive reporting while remaining sensitive to the victims’ humanity.
Though the tornado claimed 46 lives and caused more than $40 million in property damage, many in this devastated community told reporters Monday they could take solace in the fact that such a responsible news organization was on site to contribute hard-hitting yet pointed commentary that skillfully captured every nuance of the storm’s ruinous toll.
“Beginning with the speed and accuracy of their initial coverage, you could tell this newspaper cared only about reporting the story fairly and thoroughly, and was not interested in exploiting our suffering for cheap spectacle or personal gain,” said former bank teller Amber Devoe, who later grew emotional talking about The Onion‘s touching three-part feature on her family’s plight. “They truly illuminated a significant and complex event with lucid writing and a sensitive presentation.”
“I’ve lost everything—my home, my job, everything,” Devoe added. “But this newspaper’s unwavering commitment to first-rate journalism has given me the courage to continue on.”
Though townspeople remained in a state of shock, they spent most of Monday applauding the news organization’s “poignant,” “classy,” and “often brilliant” coverage of the storm. Explaining that they never felt taken advantage of, citizens said they hoped the newspaper would return repeatedly for follow-up stories, adding that they already missed watching reporters do their fantastic work.
In addition, every single person interviewed agreed that reading the newspaper’s coverage of the event was the one thing that gave them comfort.
“With my world crumbling around me, the paper’s consistent display of journalistic excellence and its evenhanded touch of humanity was something to look forward to,” said Roy Brusckewicz, 56, standing by the splintered remains of his old trailer, which he said was “artfully profiled” in the newspaper’s Onion Magazine. “I appreciated the special emphasis they placed on investigating all aspects of the story, from the tornado’s human toll to its effect on the local economy and culture. Really great stuff.”
The news organization, with 3.6 million print readers in 11 cities nationwide and a website that attracts more than 7.5 million unique visitors every month, is not just confined to traditional media: Its expansive social networking presence and recent launch of mobile apps are a testament to the newspaper’s embrace of new technologies and its willingness to innovate in tandem with the changing face of journalism, sources reported.
To date, the newspaper has received a number of awards for its excellence, with one notable exception.
“Typically, after the reporting of such a tragedy, praise is heaped onto less deserving publications, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune,” said livestock farmer Colin Atkins, whose livelihood was decimated by the twister. “This town will feel the effects of this tragedy for decades, but the real injustice would be if those piss-poor excuses for newspapers I just mentioned didn’t lose readers and precious ad dollars due to their incompetent coverage.”
Atkins, who lost both his sons in the tornado, continued to rail against such media organizations, suggesting that while other reporters might get more attention with their flashy journalism degrees and their bylines, the writers of this newspaper are the only ones who truly empathized with the community’s plight.
“All we did was get hit by a tornado—they’re the real heroes,” he said. “In recognition of their public service, they deserve some sort of prestigious national prize in journalism.”
Added Atkins, “You know, if such a thing exists.”