By Neel Arora
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Not very many websites that follow the Associated Press stylebook for journalists would openly claim all their content is fabricated, the people fake and the er, facts fiction.
“It’s a lot easier than going out and conducting interviews,” said Josh Robinson, a writer for the O'Skizzy website, oskizzy.com.
The O’Skizzy, a satire and parody news source, has a focus not to inform but to humor its audience.
Much like Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart or the wildly popular print publication the Onion, O’Skizzy has found a niche of its own, Oklahoma State University.
“We wanted to do something for the school that we could not achieve through O’Colly,” said Andrew Bair, a co-founder of the O’Skizzy. “Present stupid stuff on campus in a funny way.”
The website, which derives its name as a spin-off from the student newspaper the Daily O’Collegian or O’Colly as it is known, was launched in November. It has a core group of four – two co-founders, an editor, and a writer - who work together to publish content and maintain the website.
They set out to make fun of things they did not agree with, giving people a different twist on anything related to OSU or localizing events of national, international or state significance.
Greek life was at the center of their motivation, while keeping school camaraderie high.
“I think the Greek system is the craziest thing in the world,” said Bair, who like his colleagues is either in a fraternity or a sorority.
A lot of their creative inspiration comes from the Onion.
“We like the Onion but it does not talk about Eskimo Joe’s,” Robinson said.
Localizing news is the key to any success they have earned, while making it relevant and identifiable to OSU students, said Joey Senat, an assistant professor at OSU’s School of Media and Strategic Communications. Keeping content edgy, funny and interesting also helps create a following.
Parody and satire news is not new. It’s been around since the Colonial Press and before the Civil War, Senat said. The technology, however, of using the Internet to deliver content and reach a wide audience at an inexpensive cost is new. Localizing content is a break from hundreds of online publications that appeal to a national audience.
So far the O’Skizzy has registered 2.6 million page views since its inception and is adding an average of 7,000 a day, but it has not found a way to profit from any of it yet.
Its only costs are web hosting, site maintenance and the occasional freelancer’s wage. They have two advertisers that cover these costs.
Max Brinegar, another co-founder, sees greater potential for the O’Skizzy. He wants its concept to spread across college campuses in the United States, using a main umbrella website with individual pages for each school, a social network of sorts.
This is similar to the vision under how it all began.
A friend of Bair’s and Brinegar’s at Texas Christian University had already launched a similar website, the Skiffler, and wanted to expand by creating a network of five other websites like his at different colleges. OSU became the only other school, in part because of their friendship and shared vision.
“You can’t run this without a large corporate budget,” Brinegar said.
A few weeks after O’Skizzy was launched, ownership was transferred to Bair and Brinegar.
The two of them are fraternity brothers. Brinegar - who manages the operations, how the website looks and the business side of things - does not create content. That job is for Bair, Robinson and the editor, Cassidy Hill.
Besides being friends and their participation in Greek life, the only thing they have in common is their personality.
“We can hate on anything,” Bair said. “This is a way to channel all these sarcastic remarks into news format, AP style.”
They are all heading in different directions in terms of careers.
Bair is a music major who wants to be a pianist, Robinson is studying broadcast journalism, Brinegar is a marketing and international business major with an entrepreneurial edge and Hill is an advertising and public relations major.
The O’Skizzy could either be used to pump their resumes or it could become something more, they are all aware of that.
“It could be a way for us to propel ourselves into the future and make our dreams a reality,” Brinegar said.