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The Onion Print Edition Ending for Good — and It's No Joke

Image: The Onion Print Edition Ending for Good — and It's No Joke

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 05:09 PM

By Robin Farmer


Satirical newspaper and website The Onion is ending its print edition, deciding a move to an all-online format will better position The Onion for another 25 years. The last editions will publish on Dec. 12.

The nation’s most famous mock newspaper — at one time distributed for free in 17 cities — is dealing with the serious realities of the newspaper business it pokes fun at: costs.

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“We love print, but it's hard to make money doing it,” Onion President Mike McAvoy said, acccording to Crain's Chicaco Business. “It's hard to protect the past. You can't. The world moves too quickly.”

McAvoy said the company's focus in recent years has been on "growing the digital side" of the business.

A paid subscription for the weekly started by two University of Wisconsin juniors in Madison in 1988 was never an option as its longtime readers are used to not paying for the paper and a key younger audience, ages 18 to 34, won't start paying, McAvoy believes.

In recent years, The Onion tried to cut costs and contracted out some work, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Chicago Tribune Media Group took over ad sales, printing, and distribution in the local market three years ago. The company moved its headquarters to Chicago last year after a decade in New York.

The Onion is focusing on other projects such as creating advertiser-sponsored content and its appeal is marketable, Ken Doctor, an industry consultant and author of “Newsonomics” told Crain's. “Everyone knows The Onion's sensibility. If you go to an advertiser, they're going to understand what that means immediately.”

The Onion is also working with Amazon's new Amazon Studios to create a TV series called “Onion News Empire,” which is scheduled to premiere in 2014.

"We believe our move to an all-digital brand, alongside our content — which is funnier than ever — will position us for continued success the next 25 years," McAvoy said in a statement.

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