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Star Media Group pulls the plug on The Onion/A.V. Club

Having been north of the border for less than a year, satirical newspaper The Onion and its pop-culture counterpart The A.V. Club have been shut down by Star Media Group.

An internal memo from Toronto Star publisher and SMG president John Cruickshank sent Thursday afternoon cited the most unsurprising reason for ceasing publication:

We are announcing today that Star Media Group will be suspending publication of the Toronto edition of The Onion, the U.S.-based weekly news parody newspaper, due to economic pressures that have resulted in declining advertising revenues.

A.V. Club editor John Semley confirmed the news on The A.V. Club's end via Twitter:

I can confirm that @AVClubToronto is going dark. Last print issue next Thursday, last day of online content next Friday. Thanks for reading.

Through Cruickshank said in the memo that there would be no job losses as a result of the decision to stop distribruting The Onion, it appears the same cannot be said of The A.V. Club. Added another tweet from Semley:

I'll also clarify the "no job losses" thing. There are job losses, but on the Onion end. I, for one, am jobless.

When SMG launched the publications in September 2011, The Onion was simply running the U.S. version of the print edition, as Rhiannon Russell reported for J-Source when she attended the launch party.

Under the agreement that the satirical paper had with SMG, the Star assumed control of the business side of things for the Toronto edition — namely, advertising and publishing responsibilites.

Toronto was The Onion's first foray into the international market, and when the partnership with SMG was announced, Steve Hannah, President and CEO of Onion Inc., noted that Toronto was consistently in its top 10 cities for online readers.

But as the newspaper industry has learned: Online audiences don't necessarily translate into print revenue.

Belinda Alzner is Associate Editor at J-source.ca, where this story first appeared.

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