Satire Paper The Onion Ends Publication in Twin Cities

After assuming control of local advertising sales, production, and distribution for the satirical newspaper, the publisher of the Pioneer Press has discontinued production of The Onion in the Twin Cities.

Satirical newspaper TheOnion, along with its local arts and entertainment coverage, will no longer be available on Twin Cities newsstands alongside other free weeklies like City Pages.

The A.V. Club Twin Cities—which provided local entertainment coverage online and in an insert in The Onion—ceased operations on Friday, Editor Jason Zabel wrote in a blog post. The print distribution ofThe Onion in the Twin Cities has also come to a halt, he said, an assertion that was confirmed by a spokesperson from the company that distributed the paper locally.

The Onion and the national version of The A.V. Club will continue to be available online, Zabel said in the blog post. He was unavailable for comment on Monday.

The newspaper’s exit from the Twin Cities comes about a year and a half after Northwest Publications, which publishes the Pioneer Press, assumed control of local advertising sales, production, and distribution for the newspaper.

The Onion, which is headquartered in Chicago, retained control and ownership of both local and national editorial content under the partnership. A report by the Star Tribune indicates that The Onion previously shut down its local A.V. Club coverage in a number of other markets, including Denver; Madison, Wisconsin; and Chicago.

Pioneer Press spokeswoman Patricia Effenberger said in a Monday e-mail to Twin Cities Business that “an increased focus on our rapidly growing site and related digital operations, along with what we determined to be the limited growth opportunities in The Onion’s niche market” were among the factors that contributed to halting The Onion’s local production.

Citing company policy, Effenberger declined to comment on whether advertising revenue trends were also among those factors, or whether the move resulted in layoffs. Zabel indicated in his blog post that he lost his job, although he worked for The Onion.

The Onion's print publication had a circulation of 44,000 in the Twin Cities, according to Effenberger.

“The change will not affect the Pioneer Press; operations of The Onion were separate from the newspaper,” Effenberger said.

Despite losing his job with The Onion, Zabel isn’t exiting the editorial world: Matt Kenevan, owner of The Beer Dabbler, recently tapped Zabel as editor of a new craft beer-centric magazine called The Growler, which launched earlier this month and will be published every two months. (Kenevan too is a former employee of The Onion, where he worked for more than a decade before leaving to focus on The Beer Dabbler, a St. Paul-based company that hosts beer festivals.)

“The loss of local coverage is an unfortunate but common occurrence these days. But the loss of The A.V. Club here in the Twin Cities makes me especially sad, and not just because I’m out of a job, but because I think this publication has a unique voice,” Zabel said in his blog post. “In our time publishing in the Twin Cities, we have tried our best to develop a publication that we feel reflects the Twin Cities: smart, fun, and a little bit different.”