Onion Article Spoofs Student Newspaper Endorsement of Obama

In a new piece so subtle in its satire it took me a while to get the joke, The Onion mocks the practice of college newspapers endorsing presidential candidates.

The article slowly tears apart a student newspaper’s faux endorsement of President Obama in his reelection campaign.  From my perspective, the three-fold point seems to be: 1) Students don’t know enough about national politics or major social issues to really know who is right to lead the country.  2) These types of endorsement editorials in student newspapers tend to rely on nothing more than superficiality and cliches.  3) Considering their audience and lack of quality, student newspapers should stick to coverage of small-time campus matters like “editorials on late-night student shuttle service and expanding the use of DevilDollars meal-plan credits to off-campus eateries.”  Yikes, yeah, it’s a bit harsh.

A portion of the piece, cliches in bold: “Despite its endorsement, the editorial aimed to serve as a ‘wake-up call‘ for Obama, sternly warning the incumbent that ‘slogans won’t be enough this time around.’  The Recorder’s staff, whose members receive four English Department credits for their work on the newspaper, went on to offer the president even more pointed words, stating that it was imperative he ‘stand up for the middle class‘ if he wanted to triumph in November.  Flanked by articles on the volleyball team’s recent 3-1 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and an annual drag talent show planned for Greek Week, the editorial noted that it was providing a realistic assessment of Obama’s first term by not only focusing on his successes in office, but also candidly shedding light on his ‘share of failures.'”

The article– more fascinating than funny, frankly (and I’m a huge Onion fan)– reminded me of an editorial in The Villanovan at Philadelphia’s Villanova University in early 2009.  Responding to criticism over the paper’s lack of Obama inauguration coverage, top staff basically responded: There are other papers for that.  We cover Villanova news.

What do you think?  For the record, a bunch of student newspapers published endorsement editorials during the last presidential election– a vast majority for Obama


‘College Papers Back Obama, 63 to 1′

Obama Mania in College Media: A 2008 Election Recap

Obama endorsement stirs “mini-uproar” at Abilene Christian

4 Responses to “Onion Article Spoofs Student Newspaper Endorsement of Obama”
  1. rileysnyder says:

    I think it entirely depends on the context on the article. While this article is satirical, it’s not uncommon to see such high-minded prose bandied about in college papers. As I’ve said before, college papers need to cover material that directly relates to their readers – students. Writing stories about national figures that have pretty direct connections to a specific campus or just higher education in general in my opinion works out pretty well.

    • Dan says:

      Riley- A good point. I personally feel an endorsement editorial in a student paper can be valuable, but it should focus on the candidate’s record or commitment to students or industries and issues affecting the state where the paper’s school is located.

  2. Marc Wood says:

    I think the photo is the most effective satire in the article. The text itself comes across as fairly condescending, especially coming from a newspaper for whom “is usually picked up in the student union and flipped directly to the crossword puzzle” applies as much or more so than for a student publication.

    • Dan says:

      Marc- I agree. I usually laugh out loud or at least chuckle at Onion pieces or briefs, but this came across as oddly, well, mean. The timing is very strange too– it’s a month or two from full-on endorsement season.