An Obituary…for Print

700While The New York Times has always been held up as the paragon of modern newspapers, news lovers know the real paper of record is The Onion. The fact that it is a work of satire has not hampered it in the slightest from getting to the truth of an issue.

Last week, The Onion ran a story headlined “Print Dead At 1,803.” An obituary.

NEW YORK—Sources close to print, the method of applying ink to paper in order to convey information to a mass audience, have confirmed that the declining medium passed away early Thursday morning.

The influential means of communication was 1,803.

Ably capturing that unflappable newspaper style, The Onion describes paper’s decline in a manner usually reserved for people: “I knew that it had been struggling recently, but still, I thought it had many more happy, healthy years in it.”

The beauty of The Onion  is that frequently they play their stories right down the middle. In this case, you’re not sure if they’re merely agreeing with the proposition that print is dead, or if they’re treating the thought as absurd. Take one of the final comments from the piece:

“Look at print’s list of accomplishments: the Magna Carta, the King James Bible, the oldest surviving manuscript of the I Ching, the Declaration of Independence, the first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, every single issue of The Onion ever printed. That’s quite a legacy print’s leaving behind. And the world will not soon forget it.”

But The Onion being The Onion, it finishes on a line that turns it all on its head.


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