The Onion‘s Baratunde Thurston on the Key to Writing a Catchy Headline

Baratunde Thurston has been with The Onion for about two and half years and is currently the “fake news” publication’s Web and politics editor. In this episode of Media Beat, we asked him about the key to writing a catchy headline. “I thought I understood how it works,” said Thurston of the time before he joined the publication and was looking in from the outside.

“We start with the headlines,” he said, adding that every week hundreds of headlines come in from the company’s full time writers and part time contributors. “Then the story is written from that angle on, which makes writing news a lot easier, if you can start with the headline,” he said.

Of course, The Onion wants to make sure those headlines travel fast on all platforms. Case in point: Thurston told us that The Onion‘s iPhone app shot to No. 1 in the “news” category on Apple’s app store within 12 hours of being released.

We also asked him about the funniest example of when someone thought an Onion headline was real. Watch the video to find out the answer to that question and more.

PART 2: The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston On Why Media Pros Should Diversify

PART 3: Baratunde Thurston: ‘I Don’t Know that Media Companies Need to Be Saved

Media Beat is’s interview series with the movers and shakers of the media world. View all past episodes at Follow Media Beat on Twitter.

Publish date: April 12, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT