Questionable, yet remarkably accurate sources

I’m just back from a flying trip to Melbourne wher I was facilitating a research planning workshop so I’m a little tired and can’t think straight let alone blog straight, but I just had to note the hysterical situation of parody imitating reality which is all over the blogs today.

First – a bit of background. I do the orientation class for MBA students which introduces the technology and tools students use throughout the MBA at the Brisbane Graduate School of Business, and in that session, I talk about legitimate and somewhat questionable news sources. I always point my browser to The Onion, as an example of a site which looks like a legitimate news site, but which is actually a parody of a news site, and is often hilarious reading. I point out that the news is apocryphal at best and often potentially offensive. I also point out that the news is inaccurate.

I must now add a caveat to that last point.

Because The Onion published a story in February 2004 which (besides being about as offensive as you can get in terms of language), was an hysterical piece supposedly written by the CEO of Gillette (yes, the shaver company), where the absurd battle between Gillette and Schick for shaving prowess was brought to a new level, with the CEO calling for a 5 blade shaver. Here’s a taste:

They don’t tell me what to invent—I tell them. And I’m telling them to stick two more blades in there. I don’t care how. Make the blades so thin they’re invisible. Put some on the handle. I don’t care if they have to cram the fifth blade in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!

It’s meant to be a lot of fun.

There’s only one trouble. Gillette unveiled a new shaver designed almost precisely as it is described in The Onion article on Wednesday.

So from now on, I will have to say, “The Onion is usually inaccurate, and is meant to be a parody news source. Nevertheless, they occasionally get the story right, and I would go as far as to say that nothing scares The Onion editors more.”

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