Good Morning McCann with The Onion
For our latest Good Morning McCann session, we welcomed The Onion’s Managing Editor Ben Berkley for a behind-the-scenes look at "America’s Finest News Source.” Ben's hilarious presentation started with a look at the hot ad industry topics that just don’t get enough play in the press, including:
- The efficacy of banner ads
- What a 'millennial' is
- Role of social media
- How one can be a 'disruptor'
Ben also raised some significant issues facing the ad industry, including:
- Not enough time spent networking
- People don’t hold enough respect for their industry
- Not enough branded content
Then Ben got semi-serious and shared some details about The Onion's editorial process. The #1 rule: “Everything Starts with the Headline.” It’s a rigorous process. Of the 1,500 headlines pitched every week, only 30-40 make the cut. Headlines get rejected if they’re: not rooted in some kind of truth; too derivative; or approaching the issue from the wrong angle.
The Onion’s writers spend less than 10 hours a week in meetings so they can focus on idea generation and actually just write. If an article is timely, it will be written, edited and published in as little as an hour.
Once the piece goes live, the responses pour in. Given the nature of The Onion’s coverage, responses run the gamut. In Ben’s words: “The Internet is an interesting place for anyone, especially when you’re dealing with satire.” He then shared some examples of “selective outrage” from readers’ reactions to various stories. They are too inflammatory to re-share, but you get the idea.
So how has The Onion built its loyal audience? The root of it is respect for their readership. And by following a couple ground rules:
- Don’t go for the easy jokes
- Don’t try to trick anyone
- Take responsibility as a trusted source of commentary
- Sometimes, just be a source for escapist comedy
Though not all of these headlines made the cut, here are some that got the biggest laughs:
"Groundhog Trapped in Bill Murray Day"
"Booty Call Coming from Inside House"
"Study: Dolphins Not So Intelligent on Land"
"Mary-Kate Olsen is Dragging Ashley Down"