In a show of support for their murdered French peers, editors at the famous satirical publication The Onion have decided to erect a memorial paywall. The goal, editors say, is to get readers to better appreciate the value of satire by making them pay for an online subscription.
Anyone trying to access the organization’s website from abroad will see the memorial paywall, a simple white surface on which a few thoughtful words are inscribed. The monument is being praised for its honesty and brevity, as well as its Onion-branded humor. Inside are articles that pay tribute to the 10 Charlie Hebdo writers and cartoonists who were ruthlessly murdered on Wednesday.
“The ability to mock the world’s foolish and powerful must never be stripped away,” said editor Cole Bolton. “But people today are so used to free satirical content, that we thought it’d be good to ask them, ‘What if that freedom were taken away? What is the price of that five-paragraph Onion piece?”
“It comes out to only $2.95 per month, or $29.95 per year,” he added. “That may seem like a lot of money for American fans who are used to unfettered access, but not for loyal Charlie Hebdo fans who were paying almost four bucks per issue.”
Both longtime readers and those who are checking out The Onion from abroad for the first time are expressing their approval of the memorial paywall, saying it delivers a powerful message in the wake of the attack on the freedom of speech.
“The memorial paywall is really beautifully designed,” said Vincent Dessoy, a lawyer from Paris who has been reading Charlie Hebdo since he was a boy, but is now considering alternatives. “You get to the home page, and as soon as the huge ads for DiGiorno pizza finish loading, even before you can read the titles, that paywall pops up in your face.”
“I’m just hoping to understand the irony of it all one day,” he added. “American humor can be rather difficult for French people.”