What is The Onion?

There are millions of sources of news and information on the Internet today, all competing for people's attention.  Some are well-known organizations of journalists with long track records, while others are more on the fringe, catering towards specific audiences and viewpoints.  Similarly, there are many different comedy websites on the Internet, covering styles from slapstick humour to old-fashioned punch-line jokes, from parodies and satire to dark, absurdist humour.

Now, what happens when you put a news website and a comedy website together?  Well, you get something like TheOnion.com.  The Onion makes jokes about the news by attempting to be the news.  It plays with the notion that sometimes, no matter the source, the news just seems too absurd to be real.  Stories are sometimes blown up to be larger than life on the surface, but if you dig deeper, they end up just being blown out of proportion. 

So, in a nutshell, what is The Onion?

The Onion is a comedy website that presents its jokes in the form of fake news articles and video reports.  Most of its humour comes from sensationalizing mundane events so as to make them newsworthy.  The Onion pokes fun at subjects such as news reporting, pop culture, sports, and lifestyles.

The Onion is similar to televised news parody programs such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Last Week Tonight, The Rick Mercer Report, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Is The Onion real or satire?

The Onion is a satirical website.  However, it has occasionally fooled some people into believing that its stories are real.  This is because its styles of content delivery are meant to mirror those of legitimate news outlets, and its topics are often based on real (or at least conceivably real) world events.

Just remember that the stories on The Onion may contain some kernel of truth (or perceived truth) in their satirical humour, but in literal terms, the events that they portray are always fictional.


This course will introduce The Onion to you, give you a tour of the website, and show you some other websites that you can try for a laugh-out-loud skewering of modern news outlets!