The Onion this month told staff that resisting advertiser pressure is a "losing game." But it seems the humor publication isn't just keen to sell its soul to sponsors; we hear The Onion is talking about selling everything.
A tipster says word out out of the publication is that it's in negotiations to sell to a large media company. It's not clear how far apart the two sides are; we're not assuming any deal is imminent.
The Onion has been down this road before. The last business team, led by Peter Haise, bought the paper for a song in 1989 but got whipsawed in 2001 amid the dot-com downturn. There was an abortive effort to sell to Comedy Central before New York money manager David Schafer and his partners took over and installed PR man Steve Hannah as CEO.
Now Hannah, who just cut $6 million in costs, is said to be out seeking buyers. We're guessing he's having an easier time than his predecessor; the Daily Show and Colbert Report rocketed to real prominence in the past eight years, making the satire business more attractive, and the Onion has developed an impressive video operation. The trick is to keep the lights on — without tarnishing the publication's image or integrity — until a deal closes.
If you've heard anything about the talks, let us know (anonymity assured!).