Summit 2015, Austin TX
Monday & Tuesday, March 23-24, 2015

Session 4: Monday 3:15
IPO Room
Moderator: Ken Ashdown

Justin Sinkovich
Assistant Professor, Media Management BA Coordinator
Columbia College Chicago

Jerry Brindisi
Assistant Professor, Music Business BA Coordinator
Columbia College Chicago

The Art and Business of Satire: The Onion

On January 7, 2015, the Parisian office of the popular satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo was attacked by two Islamic extremist gunmen. This attack was just weeks after the massive cyber attack on Sony by a team from North Korea in reaction to the impending release of the film, The Interview, a comedic film depicting a fictitious plot to assassinate North Korea’s notorious leader Kim Jong Un. This violence illustrates the impact of media globalization due to the reach of the Internet and specifically how powerful of a medium comedy and satire can be. The Onion Inc.’s inaugural publication, The Onion, is a weekly satirical news reporting publication that is the organization’s most well known property. Joe Randazzo, former Editor of Charlie Hebdo’s American equivalent, The Onion, published an article the same day as the latest Charlie Hebdo attacks, reflecting on how The Onion has always understood it is a similar target and how the perception of danger has changed as of the attack. In the face of the threat of violence and despite the hate mail and death threats the staff have received, Randazzo and countless others across major and social media platforms have called for resolve in freedom of expression.

The Onion Inc. is a private digital media powerhouse company that produces wide reaching and well-respected online properties. Since its inception it has seen significant growth in terms of readership, diversity of offerings, organizational growth, as well as acceptance and acclaim among mainstream media. The Onion Inc.’s websites boast close to 30 percent growth in 2013 and again in 2014. The Onion’s web publications drew 24 million people visiting in one month (unique visitors). In addition to The Onion, the company publishes The A.V. Club, a non-satirical website with reviews and feature articles related to entertainment and popular culture including television programming, films, music, comedy, books, and video games. The company also publishes Clickhole, a new and rapidly growing satirical publication that largely parallels list and quiz-based content similar to Buzzfeed.

In addition to addressing the impact of satire and comedy on the global media landscape, this paper explores the history of The Onion Inc. and its business practices. It addresses the company’s growth, and its adaptation to globalization, media convergence, and the decline of the print industry. The paper explores related macroeconomic media trends, the impact of social media, mobile technology, advertising strategy, online revenue models, and more.

Clyde Philip Rolston
Professor of Music Business
Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, Belmont University

David Herrera
Assistant Professor of Music Business
Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, Belmont University

Using Group Projects for Problem Based Learning in Music Business Courses

Problem based learning is examined and applied within a group setting. Using a focused iterative strategy and existing problem based learning frameworks and theory, marketing projects are concept mapped, then developed iteratively in a sequential timeline, with the application or content development focused on “real world” or actual project focus on real world application for solicited national and local independent musical artists. By using a constructivist perspective, learning projects are designed to challenge students to be self-directed and collaborative, with students taking responsibility for a guided learning process that reinforces marketing principles. Within this problem-based scenario, the projects are developed by framing a driving question that iteratively structures the engagement of the project. Students must use critical thinking and planning and are assessed within a formative and summative structure with rubrics. Research indicates that iterative and contextual learning structure develops stronger conceptual long term, as well as long-term knowledge retention.