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article imageArea man notices The Onion is now in Toronto

By Andrew Reeves     Sep 29, 2011 in Entertainment
Toronto - The Onion and the A.V. Club expand beyond the United States for the first time. And Toronto is the market destination of choice.
After the launch party for The Onion in Toronto has been put in the books, and the staff at The Drake have all gone home to bed, Toronto can get down to the business at hand - laughing at ourselves. And, no doubt, chalking up The Onion's presence in Toronto as yet another sign of how world class we really are as a city.
John Semley, City Editor for the The Onion's A.V. Club Toronto, noted on The A.V. Club website, "Relax, Toronto: you have the A.V. Club now." And if that wasn't enough, "the point is that Toronto has arrived," according to Semley. "As The A.V. Club’s first international bureau, Toronto is now on par with such major American metropolises as Madison, Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Look out, Duluth!"
And look out, Toronto. In their first foray into publishing outside of the United Stated, The Onion has taken up shop in Toronto through a printing partnership with the Toronto Star. And in an interview with The Star, Steve Hannah, president and CEO of Onion, Inc., calls the partnership with Toronto an "ideal fit."
The Star writes that "with a 7.5 million online audience for The Onion, Toronto consistently ranks among the top five cities for overall web traffic."
“It’s an obvious choice,” said Hannah in a telephone interview. “Toronto is a cosmopolitan, sophisticated, hip, cool town. It’s a music town. The film festival, we’ve been covering it for years.”
But it's a crowded market in Toronto for alt-weekly's. The introduction of a major US-based competitor is something that has the potential to hurt the local market for the kind of material The Onion (and others) are known for. Weekly's like NOW Magazine and The Grid (also distributed through the Toronto Star) report on actual news happenings, unlike The Onion's more satirical take on things.
Advertising dollars may be stretched as a result of another major player on the market, as advertisers want to get in on the excitement and publicity of the big new thing in town.
BlogTO writes that,
What precisely this will mean for Toronto's free alt-weekly scene remains to be seen, but clearly TorStar is heavily invested in the business model, having recently relaunched EYE Weekly as the Grid only a couple months prior to today's announcement, which will see the company assume "business management responsibilities, including advertising rights, sales, printing and distribution" of the Onion.
But if nothing else, at a time when civic engagement among youth aged 18 to 34 (the alt-weekly's core demographic) is likely at a recent high due to opposition to the Rob Ford mayoralty, The Onion's A.V. Club is promising to build on that engagement to help connect Torontonians to their city in new ways.
"The thing is this, Toronto: With the current state of our civic administration and its uneasy relationship with local arts, we could probably all stand to be a little more engaged," writes Semley.
"But supporting local culture—even if it’s not some grand, knowingly dynamic gesture of 'supporting'—is supposed to be the thing that makes city living livable. It’s why we moved from the suburbs or out of our no-horse industry towns and threw down stakes here in the first place.
"That and all the bars."
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