Kvue.com satirists look for jokes outside of obvious as social media emerges as unlikely foe chicken videos

In a world where social media sites allow any person to take a piece of modern society and point out the obvious shortcomings and ridiculousness, satire has bled outside of publishers like "the onion" and into the fingertips of the world. Anyone can publish a funny and relatable one-liner.

"We’re in an era where everyone has a hot funny take on every single issue that happens," said jermaine affonso, a staff writer with "NBC late night with seth meyers." affonso sat alongside mike gillis, sr. Writer for "the onion"; matt powers, editor in chief at "clickhole"/ "the onion"; and jocelyn richard, staff writer at "I love you, america with sarah silverman."

The four, who all have some type of connection to " the onion," hosted an impromptu and at times hilarious panel at SXSW thursday, march 15 about whether satire still matters in the U.S.Late night


the nonchalant answer they gave in the panel description: eh, sure.

The panel all came to the consensus that satire is still a necessary part of the human discourse but added that professional satirical writers need to avoid getting sucked into the same topics of twitter comedians and late night talk show hosts.

"I think part of it comes just from being vigilant to what’s out there on social media. We [the onion] always talk about trying to get the second or third step take away from what everyone else is saying," said mike gillis.

But — there’s no denying that social media has been a game changer for the satire industry, according to matt powers. Facebook, specifically, is a touchy subject for him because he thinks the social media giant is damaging to all web publishers. He said its goal is to collect advertising dollars and keep users on facebook, therefore limiting traffic back to the original content source.Late night

"It’s a vicious cycle, and facebook is kind of playing chicken with web publishers. We’re [facebook] not going to pay, even though you’re creating content that people like. We’re going to take the money for it," powers said.

"The web is like the wild west of creativity, which is why I really love it," powers added. "And for facebook to have such a big share of it, I think only homogenizes the viewpoints." powers said while the social media platform allows broad exposure for youtube celebrities and charismatic teens with "swooshy hair" to publish quick-edit videos often, it can take away from the carefully edited and more expensive content of " clickhole" and "the onion" because on facebook the videos will be weighted the same based on audience engagement.

"They change it all the time so that you’re always trying to keep up with what they’re doing, and you’re just pivoting three million times," she said.Always going

Facebook’s new algorithm for 2018 is already in action, and various publications reported that it could hurt web publishers even more. Now, user-generated content carries more weight than business content. In a january facebook post, mark zuckerburg, facebook’s CEO, said his decision to switch up the newsfeed algorithm came after backlash for the social media platform indirectly contributing to the spread of fake news and "political polarization," according to bloomberg technology.

For clickhole, powers said they’ve adjusted to the algorithm by making their website more advertiser-friendly, which as a result, he said negatively affects the user experience.

Nevertheless, the content wheel for satirical writers never ceases to turn. A topic that tends to become the focus of many satire writers, twitter comedians and late night talk show hosts: politics.

While some might say that satirical publishers can sometimes poke more fun at one side more than another, gillis said that’s not how the editorial process works at "the onion."

Always going

"In "the onion’s" writer’s room, we try to have those conversations and actually talk about things in a way that allows us to understand the opposing viewpoint, understand how a sacrosanct topic for a liberal might have some holes that you can poke in. And I think by always doing that, you give yourself the chance to explore a lot of topics that might not be available for a more politically charged late night show for example," said gillis."

"Our first goal is to be funny — I’ll only speak for "clickhole’ here. We have a room full of people and that’s all they care about as their primary objective: can I make people around the table laugh?" said powers.

The panel affirmed that it’s important for social media users to have some sort of inclination to what satire is because if they don’t, there’s a very likely possibility that they will mark an "onion" article as fake news or mistake it for a legitimate piece of reporting, according to richard.Fake news

"There’s an element in media literacy that requires the audience to understand what satire is," said gillis. "It’s holding up a social ill for critique using humor. There needs to be an element of reflection and self-reasoning applied when you read a headline to understand ‘okay this is patently impossible.’"

Richard said even with the social media difficulties, creative challenges and political climate, satire will always have a seat at the table as long as there are people willing to laugh at the faults in the national dialogue.

"There’s always going to be a place for satire. People have been writing satire forever and ever and ever. We’re always going to need it, and we’re always going to have a place for it. It sort of stinks at this moment because of a lot of factors… Sometimes it’s conflated with fake news, but I’m hoping that will pass," said richard.