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Straitlaced media giant buys satirical website because millennials

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Spanish-language giant Univision has acquired a 40 percent stake in the satirical news site, The Onion.

Details of the deal were announced by Univision Tuesday.

The Onion started in print in the late 80s and has gained a reputation for snarky news stories, many providing thinly-veiled commentary about society.

Univision has made several efforts in the past to connect with millennial media watchers, many of whom no longer watch TV.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes for media

Amara Aguilar is an associate professor of digital journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism. She also studies the rapidly evolving media industry. Aguilar tells Take Two that Univision’s core audience is aging, so new audiences must be tapped.

“When I think of Univision, I think of my great aunts watching the telenovelas or the news shows,” Aguilar says. “It’s definitely an older Latino generation … and it’s definitely a traditional audience, and that audience is getting older and, sadly, dying off.”

Aguilar says simply changing the programming wouldn’t be enough to keep viewership numbers up.

But why, though?

The ability to recognize a media organization’s need to change with the times is an invaluable skill for studio executives, but still the question remains: why? Aguilar says the answer lies in how millennials get their content and what it takes for them to share it with their peers.

“The millennial generation, they’re getting news and information from their mobile devices, they’re getting it online, and they love to share funny content,” Aguilar says. “Everybody likes to laugh, so I think this is a very interesting move.”

Univision, The Onion, and the presidential race

The 2016 presidential race has provided the mainstream media with plenty of fodder, and The Onion wasted no time jumping into the fray. But why does the network that has given us Jorge Ramos’ “Al Punto” want to align itself with the publication that offers us such gems as, “Rubio Refutes Claim He Soft On Immigration By Dragging Undocumented Worker He Knocked Out Cold Onto Stage,” and “Huckabee Decries Obamacare’s Failure To Help Slow, Cross-Eyed Cousin Who Got Kicked By Mule?” Aguilar says that, despite the liberal skew, few can deny The Onion’s ability to make a fake story go viral.

“They are okay with reaching more people, and I think they will do that with this deal,” Aguilar says. “It might be funny content, but it can create serious discussions.”

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.