August 19, 2022

The Onion Is Seeking a Pulitzer, Any Pulitzer

Not that it hasn’t tried. Editors at the satirical newspaper have submitted their work for consideration by the Pulitzer Board, sometimes in categories they could conceivably qualify for, like commentary, and other times in categories that would be a stretch, like public service.

Saying the paper’s journalistic excellence should be overlooked no longer, The Onion is beginning a full-scale multimedia campaign to get a long-coveted Pulitzer. Readers, celebrities, world leaders and a nonprofit advocacy group called Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes are all contributing to the effort.

The occasion for the campaign is the paper’s 1,000th issue — or at least what the editors say they think is the 1,000th issue. They claim they do not really know. Or care.

“Since we say it is, it is,” said Seth Reiss, The Onion’s head writer.

With an oddness that only The Onion could muster, the list of luminaries who have contributed testimonial video pleas to the Pulitzer board includes Gayle King, the radio talk show host and best friend of Oprah Winfrey, and the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.

“We’re spending all our capital on this,” Mr. Reiss added.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., an acknowledged fan of The Onion’s merciless satires of him as a womanizing derelict, was said to be unavailable.

A full-page ad from Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes will appear in this week’s issue of The Onion. It says it is “a nonprofit watchdog group committed to exposing those who engage in improper journalism-award-giving,” and seeks to correct what it calls a grave injustice.

“Simply put, it’s time for the Pulitzer Board to stop the bias, stop the ignorance, and stop the neglect,” the ad declares.

The Onion’s ostensibly crotchety old publisher, a character by the name of T. Herman Zweibel, explains the paper’s crusade for a Pulitzer as the ultimate revenge after a long-running feud with Joseph Pulitzer.

“As any student of American journalism, history and criminology knows fully well,” Mr. Zweibel says in an article, “I have been at war with Joseph Pulitzer since the beginning of his career. At first he showed a measure of promise, and was one of the leading lights among Onion copy boys, cheerfully going about his work, always busy, never requesting fresh crusts or more sleeping hay.”

The relationship soured when Mr. Pulitzer committed the ultimate sin for a newspaperman in Mr. Zweibel’s eyes: He began asking questions. “Why are Mr. Zweibel’s editorials about the Whigs when most of them are long dead? Does manipulating the masses with appeals to their baser instinct sell a lot of papers?”

The Onion is also asking “concerned citizens” to sign a form letter and “mail it to the pieces of garbage” at the actual Pulitzer board office at Columbia. The letter’s salutation doesn’t lack for subtlety. “You Ignorant, Negligent Swine,” it begins.

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