It’s no joke: ‘The Onion’ cracks up Kent State

Jill Byerly

Managing editor Peter Koechley and staff writer Seth Reiss, both of The Onion, speak to Jan Leach’s media law and ethics class. The duo came to discuss the policies and methods that go into making The Onion. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

“You are dumb” was the catch phrase that caused the audience to fill the Kiva with laughter last night.

Peter Koechley, managing editor at the satirical newspaper The Onion, and Seth Reiss, staff writer at the publication, entertained an audience of about 60 Kent State students, faculty, alumni and other guests by showing their news articles that are all focused around the philosophy of “you are dumb.”

“We look for the stupidity in every situation,” Koechley said. “We have a pretty easy and fun job. People always ask us if we run out of material but we really don’t.”

The All Campus Programming Board sponsored the event.

The Onion is a really good satirical and education newspaper,” said Kelli Ciola, ACPB artist/lecture chair. “We’re lucky to have them here.”

Koechley and Reiss taught one of assistant professor of journalism Jan Leach’s ethics classes before the presentation yesterday.

“It is a little bit crazy to teach an ethics class,” Koechley said. “We are the least qualified to talk about ethics. Just working at The Onion teaches you all the wrong ideas about media. I love it.”

They made sure to make the audience aware that they cover all aspects of the news, such as politics, science and technology, sports, entertainment, education and local news.

A few of their feature headlines include, “Bush Urges Nation To Be Quiet For A Minute While He Tries To Think,” “Bush Announces Iraq Exit Strategy: ‘We’ll Go Through Iran,'” “Pedophile Less Interested The More He Views 13-year-old’s MySpace Profile” and “Oprah Viewers Patiently Awaiting Instructions.”

“I just like the image of readers picking up The Onion every week and going, ‘Oh my God,'” Koechley said.

They also read letters the newspaper received from confused readers and even included the Daily Kent Stater on their journalistic integrity scale with a score of zero, compared to The Onion’s highest number on the integrity scale.

Koechley and Reiss kept the audience laughing throughout their presentation, all the way through the question portion of the event.

“I thought it was interesting,” Katryn Whitman, sophomore fashion merchandising major said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I like satire.”

The Onion claims to be “America’s Finest News Source,” with its newspaper, radio news show, Web page, newsletters and future online edition of its cable channel, the Onion News Network, which will launch March 27.

“We don’t follow a single news source to get ideas,” Koechley said. “We try to deal with the ambient news scene and we try to write for people who don’t always follow the news.”

They ended their presentation by summarizing their philosophy: “You are dumb really encompasses our humor.”

Contact student affairs reporter Jill Byerly at [email protected].