The Onion, that razor-sharp satiric newspaper based here in Chicago, will cease publication of its print product with its December 12th issue (which should be one worth picking up), according to a report this morning from Crain’s. The move comes as the publication – always printed in tandem with its sister publication, the pop-culture-centric The A.V. Club – had dwindled to just three markets from a high of 17 (Chicago, Milwaukee, and Providence, Rhode Island). But while it’s the end of an era, don’t shed too many tears. The paper just celebrated its 25th birthday and continues to grow its global digital audience which includes several other ventures. Per Crain’s:
Those last print pacts will end now as the company concentrates on creating its own brand of satirical content, including video, for the web and for new advertising and corporate clients it has been attracting. For instance, the Onion recently was commissioned to produce a series of men’s fashion videos for shoe retailer DSW Inc.
The Onion also contracted with Amazon.com Inc.’s production studios this year to create a TV series called the Onion News Empire.
On a personal note, I worked for The A.V. Club for almost two years from 2010 to 2012 and played a small part in the Onion/A.V. Club expansion to other cities including Philadelphia, Toronto, Ann Arbor, and Indianapolis. The expansions into new markets were exciting times given the (still-growing) popularity of the publications. But the print editions were just as susceptible to the ills befalling all print products and some of those markets had to close not long after launching and, like other pubs, there were some job losses (including mine). The move to digital-only makes sense: both The Onion and The A.V. Club have maintained their high standard of content and thus the global digital audience continues to grow, a growth that happened largely thanks to the web. While it certainly feels like the end of the era – there was something great about seeing those ridiculous headlines next to other newspapers – it’s not an end that will adversely affect the publications.
UPDATE: In sadder news, A.V. Club Milwaukee, The A.V. Club’s last remaining local outpost, is closing up shop permanently on December 12, the day of the final print editions.