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The Onion: Comedy's Creative Power to Persuade by John Krewson

The Onion: Comedy's Creative Power to Persuade

by John Krewson

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The Onion sends Sports Editor John Krewson and Features Editor Joe Garden talk about "Comedy's Creative Power to Persuade." The award-winning and trenchantly funny publication is the focus of the final program in Cambridge Forum's series of "Conversations on Creativity" led by Dr. Sasha Helper.

Krewson and Garden examine the place of comedy in our public discourse in an era when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are the news sources of choice for a generation of citizens. The Onion began in 1988 as a college-based satirical publication and grew to become a national multimedia news platform that received a Peabody award in April 2009. How do its writers and editors balance news and comedy to craft stories that are persuasive enough to be taken seriously by governments around the world while leaving its readers laughing out loud?

The Onion was founded by Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson in 1988 when the two were juniors at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. Its initial success was limited to a small number of cities and towns with major universities--Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Boulder. The creation of its website in 1996 brought it national attention. As it broke through to the mass market in 2000, Comedy Central approached it for a buyout that would take the satirical tabloid to New York City and broaden its reach into other forms of media--books, blogs, tweets, and now an iPhone app. In April 2007, The Onion launched "The Onion News Network," a web video sendup of 24-hour TV news which won a Peabody award in 2009. More than 3 million people read The Onion each week in print and online.


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