BY GRAY WHITSETT – OPINIONS SECTION EDITOR
The college community of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky is reeling from recent allegations of their school newspaper publishing articles that are “purely fictional and does not necessarily reflect views of the [newspaper] or Centre College.”
The College’s newspaper, The Cento, began a new recurring feature this year with the addition of the “CentOnion.” Based on an uncreative bastardization of the school newspaper’s name and the satirical news site the Onion, the series features topical issues relevant to the Danville and Centre community in a funny, sometimes biting, manner.
“We were really excited about debuting the idea this year,” Opinions Section Editor and series creator Gray Whitsett said. “I’ve written every one of them, and I always really enjoy working on them.”
Editor-in-Chief Sarah Cornett had similar things to say about the newspaper’s recent addition.
“We’ve actually been rather surprised by its success. It adds a balance of humor to the paper that I think students and staff have really enjoyed,” Cornett said.
But not everyone is happy. Routinely, the articles find their way into day-to-day conversation or Facebook and Twitter having been taken seriously.
“It broke my heart when I thought no-bakes were actually going to be canceled,” sophomore Tyler Brockovich said, who was abroad at the time. “I told my entire Strasbourg group and we grieved together.”
Senior Bob Caldrich had a similar experience, tweeting at the college’s Twitter account after actually believing that Centre would send students into the Gaza Strip for a study abroad program.
Other examples abound, including one student concerned that Cowan food put a female student into a diabetic coma and a staff worker deeply offended at being quoted saying nothing offensive at all.
“We were worried when we first pitched the idea that people would take it as legitimate news,” Editor-in-Chief Cornett said. “But we figured since this is a place of higher learning, people would actually read the article before jumping to conclusions.”
“We even included an explicit editor’s note making clear that it’s purely fictional,” Whitsett added. “Like seriously, if you scroll down to the bottom of this article right now, you’ll find it. Not even this piece is real.”
But despite being transparent about their absurdity, The Cento still came under fire for spreading false information, confusing readers, and using names of real members of the Danville and College community.
“You’d be amazed at how quickly people will make a mountain out of a molehill,” Copy Editor Kinsey Hisle said. “And you’d be dismayed at how few people understand sarcasm.”
Indeed, the CentOnion has on occasion caused a bit of controversy, in one case culminating in an employee of the College staff getting involved in a Facebook debate on the writer’s wall. Shockingly, the rant didn’t change anyone’s opinion.
“I don’t always agree with what the articles are saying,” Cento Faculty Advisor and Old Carnegie hermit Dr. Milton Riegelman said, “but I’m always a supporter of students expressing themselves, even if it causes some upset. That’s what we teach here, and that’s what we should value.”
True, the College prides itself on instructing students in critical thinking and analytical interpretation. Still, the faux news isn’t without its victims.
“It makes my job a living hell,” News Section Editor Jared Thompson said. “I get emails, texts, and calls all the time from concerned students about the fake news developments that the CentOnion reports on. When people heard that Abraham Lincoln was conceived on the footsteps of Old Centre, people freaked out. One local artist wanted to do a rendition of the Madonna and Child using a baby Lincoln and Susie Roush. It was bizarre.”
Despite causing him a few headaches, Thompson hasn’t thrown any temper tantrums about the humorous news section.
“Maybe it’s because it’s just satire or maybe it’s because I don’t have the emotional maturity of a middle school student, but I never saw any reason to get upset.”
Regardless of how people have reacted to the CentOnion, it’s clear that students and staff have at least been reading.
“To some degree we’re just glad people are paying attention,” Editor-in-Chief Cornett said. “Now we just have to get them to read all the way through.”
Editor’s Note: Congrats. You’re actually reading this. Thank you so much for taking the time to get this far.
Anyway, the previous article is from the CentOnion series, a satirical publication focused on parodying various subjects unique to Centre College’s campus.
As such, all content within this article is purely fictional and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Cento or Centre College.
In addition all quotations used in this article are purely fictional and do not necessarily reflect the views of the individuals quoted.
Have a fantastic end to your semester, a relaxing summer, and to those graduating, we love you dearly.