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Big Laughs, Big Business. Peeling Back the ‘Onion’

TheOnionMediabistro managing editor Valerie Berrios interviewed Mike McAvoy, president of the Onion for our So What Do You Do? series. The weekly satirical newspaper has evolved into a big online business. “I think The Onion, maybe like many of our peers who were in the print business, we knew that at some point the days of print were numbered, and we were able to focus on transitioning out of print,” McAvoy says. The 26-year old company, which returned to Chicago in 2011, after a decade in New York, now produces content — text, social and video — for major brands:

Who produces your videos — and what platform do you use?

We have a video team in house. And for bigger shoots, we add on resources. We have a great freelance network in Chicago that we’ve built. Some projects are 100 percent in house, some of them we’re using outside vendors, and it’s just really dependent on how much work we have and what other work we’re doing at the time. We use YouTube. We’re one of their premium-content providers, so we have a deal with them where we are paid money to produce original content. We also distribute content that comes from TheOnion.com to YouTube, including these advertising campaigns, and so that’s all part of our network. But we’ve grown TheOnion.com so dramatically that that really is our primary distribution platform.

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