Though I’m no longer as rabid about it as I was in the 90s when I first discovered a discarded copy of the print version in my building’s vestibule, I still dread that The Onion will, simply, start to suck. They’ll forget the lessons of Spy and National Lampoon, become tone-death and start picking targets that don’t merit the satire. An unfortunate harbinger of the downfall of both of those previous humor giants was a redesign, usually indicating that the editors and writers are bored or confused, uncertain of what was the magazine’s original appeal.
The Onion’s new redesign avoided that mistake entirely. As documented in “The Funniest Grid You Ever Saw” and “Making New Fake News”, The Onion gets that the closer they simulate the look of a real newspaper, the better the comedy is. I’ve heard some believe the print version is superior simply because it more closely mimics the USA Today-local paper hybrid world each issue creates. Thanks the explosion in online news, after this redesign I don’t think many could argue that the online version is not the definitive way to read the Onion.
I particularly enjoy the right hand column, which has new stuff every weekday… including a fake cover for a typical Sunday insert “The Onion Weekender”, something that’s great for creating more quick jokes stabbing at the pedestrian feel-good content that’s less valuable than the 25¢ coupon for Tide it’s stuffed next to.
I was also pleased to see them drop of the subscription service - as a humor magazine junkie, even I couldn’t see clear to paying online for the content. Good stuff it all was to be sure, but I generally think, like most people, I read the headlines alone and then if one article seems promising, I’ll click to continue. Paying for material that I’m likely to just scan for a chuckle was just pointless. With the archives completely opened up and the right column going to fresh daily content, the paper becomes more than my late Tuesday distraction. It’s a regular weekday read.