"The Onion" launches Pulitzer Prize campaign

To mark its 1,000th issue, the comedy paper has enlisted its fans to help exact "revenge" on Joseph Pulitzer

Published June 20, 2011 12:21PM (EDT)

To commemorate what may or may not be its 1,000th issue ("Since we say it is, it is," head writer Seth Reiss told the New York Times), "The Onion" has launched a satirical campaign to bag a Pulitzer Prize. The bid comes complete with a promotional video, featuring a representative of so-called "non-profit watchdog" group Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes:

High-power "Onion" fans, including acclaimed chef Mario Batali, have also been forthcoming with their support:

Of course, the campaign is being conducted in the pages of "The Onion" too. Take, for example, the following excerpt from one of the paper's recent stories:

A consortium of 2011 Pulitzer Prize winners announced Tuesday that its members were wracked with feelings of shame and inadequacy knowing that, given The Onion's continued lack of recognition by the Pulitzer Board, they had received an award they did not deserve. "This prize is a farce," said investigative journalist and winner of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting Seymour Hersh, adding that The Onion's "searing" coverage of the My Lai Massacre far exceeded his own in breadth and insight.

For his part, the paper's "Emeritus Editor," T. Herman Zweibel, explains that the campaign is motivated mostly by "revenge":

[M]y mewling, puking editors, mere boys reeking of the damp clutch of their wet-nurses, tell me the Pulitzer is desirable, and seen as a mark of quality for the readers. For the readers! Have they listened to a single word I have ever said? Readers are of scant importance to a news-paper, and the very idea of integrity and rigor in journalism has been shown to frighten away even the hardiest of advertisers, even the marauding manufacturers of high-tension liquors, whore’s rags, and insurance who have stood by us through all else!

But for revenge? That is an all-together different matter! ... As an affront to [Joseph Pulitzer's] hatred of everything I stand for, I can think of no better revenge than for The Onion to receive the prize that bears his name.

It's unclear whether the members of the Pulitzer Prize board will be swayed by form letters describing them as a "sick, allegedly on-the-take little cabal of excellence-rapers." But any newspaper that manages to fit so many contemporary events into one article surely deserves recognition of some kind.

By Emma Mustich

Emma Mustich is a Salon contributor. Follow her on Twitter: @emustich.

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