Area Readers Get the Joke

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Onion, the Gen-X satiric newspaper, is coming to Washington and will partner with The Washington Post, which will print the paper and sell local ads.

The Onion, which also maintains a Web site, will be distributed free in news boxes and by hawkers in Washington beginning the first week in April. The Post will be paid for its business services.

Founded by University of Wisconsin students in 1988, The Onion was launched in Madison and expanded online, gaining a following for its edgy parodies of the news.

For example, The Onion's home page ( yesterday displayed the following headline and story: "Area Family's Trip to New Hampshire Sparks Rumors of Presidential Bid."

Pop-culture conceits are not spared The Onion's jabs. A headline elsewhere on its home page read: "Garage Orchestra Hands Out Demo at Boston Philharmonic Show."

In addition to its fictional satire, The Onion has an entertainment and listings section called the "A.V. Club" with national and local content.

Washington will be The Onion's 10th city for paper distribution. The Onion, self-described as "America's Finest News Source," claims a national print circulation of 599,000. It says 67 percent of its Web site viewers are between 18 and 44 years old.

"We believe that The Onion will be very well-received among young Washingtonians, and this is a very attractive opportunity for us to provide our advertisers with a new and unique way to reach that attractive young audience," said Christopher Ma, Post Co. vice president in charge of business development.

Ma oversaw the 2003 launch of Express, the free Post Co. tabloid handed out in the Metro system, and said he sees a crossover readership between Express and The Onion.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company