Onion determined to be best product garden grows

By Laura Smith

October 30, 2008

 

Garden Spoke to Elon University on October 29

Garden Spoke to Elon University on October 29

 

“I really should know who Joe the Plumber is at this point,” Joe Garden, features writer for the satirical news organization, The Onion, joked when he spoke to the Elon community last Wednesday.

Joe Garden kept the audience in stitches when he discussed parody and satire in news coverage of the 2008 presidential election in Whitley Auditorium on October 29. 

Hoping for Obama to win the election, Garden took the audience through a slideshow of typical stories that have appeared on The Onion throughout the different elections as well as the one coming up this week.

Some of the headlines included: “Bill Clinton: Screw It, I’m Running for President,” “Black Guy Asks Nation for a Change,” “McCain Silences Critics with Perfectly Executed Cartwheel,” and “Palin Brushing Up on Foreign Policy at Epcot.”

The Onion was founded in 1988, originally published by two University of Wisconsin-Madison students, Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson.

The publication made national attention when its website was created in 1996. In 2000, Comedy Central approached The Onion for a buyout and in 2001 it moved its offices to New York City.

Garden began working with The Onion after graduating from UW-Madison himself.

“I was working at a liquor store and I had met people who had worked at The Onion and they sort of came up to me,” Garden explained. “I was doing writing at the time but it was mostly bad rock criticisms for one of the student weeklies.”

Amidst his humor, Garden first passion is writing, not just making people laugh.

“I don’t really consider myself to be comedian,” he said. “I consider myself to be just a writer.”

Garden knows how to have some fun in his career though.

He played videos which poked fun at the election as well as the media’s presence in election coverage.

“What we do is we make fun of the media; what we end up doing is reflecting what’s in current events because that’s what’s in the media” he said.

“But I think we need more people who are reading the real news.”

He informed the audience to “just get the news on a daily basis, so it makes the jokes  (from The Onion) that much funnier.”

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2 thoughts on “Onion determined to be best product garden grows

  1. Did you notice how Garden is looking a little bit like the man in the portrait hanging behind him in the still photo you grabbed from the video?! I like the direction you’re trying to take with the headline, but I suggest you switch a few words around because The Onion didn’t grow Garden; Garden is growing The Onion. This story is competently done; you have specific details and direct quotes. As an editor, I would like to see you have more fun – with more humor in the lead if possible and perhaps a pullout graphic with additional funny headlines from The Onion. Playfulness is totally appropriate in a story like this! Go for it!

  2. A couple more tips:

    In media style, we don’t use the word “on” before the day or date. It’s an unnecessary extra word. Write tight, tight, tight.

    Tight, tight, tight is also important in photos most of the time. The lead photo is pulled from your video, I know, so you probably can’t crop in without making it get pixelated. Ideally you need a lead photo that’s tighter, and preferably with him gesturing at his slide show or taking more action than what we see here. The photo is deadly dull and makes an audience think they’d be better off spending time on something other than this!

    You might want to also consider adding a drop-hed, secondary headline, with more details to draw in readers.

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