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Satirical news outlet prepares to launch website

When three friends gave rise to the idea for a satirical news source, it began as an outlet to make fun of S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications students that take themselves too seriously. Since then, the idea has evolved into The Kumquat, which presents a variety of campus news in a comedic fashion.

Founded by Syracuse University sophomores Sarah Schuster, Alex Kuzoian and Nicolas Sessler, The Kumquat was created as an alternative to other campus news sources, and a way to play upon the stereotypes that exist throughout the student body, Sessler said in an email.

“We all noticed there was a lack of satirical news on campus in a multimedia format,” Kuzoian said. “So in the spring of 2012, Sarah was the one who really got the ball rolling on it. Nick and I were busy playing Mario Kart and stuff.”

Many of the stories The Kumquat creates parallels or exaggerates actual stories or issues on campus, Kuzoian said. An example of this was a video posted on The Kumquat’s YouTube channel, which showed the Dalai Lama holding a “rager” during his visit to SU.

Though The Kumquat attempts to make light of the stereotypes that exist on campus, it is always conscious of possibly offending its audience, Kuzoian said. This same issue arose for Over the Hill, a satirical news source that operated on campus until 2005, but was shut down for publishing offensive content.

Members of The Kumquat describe themselves as a comedy group, and remind their audience members to not take anything too seriously, Kuzoian said. The show’s goal is never to offend anyone intentionally, he said.

Despite this, the group did come under fire for a satirical picture posted on its Facebook page, said Mark DiBona, a member of The Kumquat. The picture depicted Student Association President Allie Curtis shaking hands with Osama bin Laden, he said.

Many of the editing sessions serve to prevent the circulation of overly offensive material, DiBona said. Ideas are converted into loose scripts, which are then critiqued and rewritten into final versions, he said.

“I think it’s impossible to do the kind of comedy we’re doing without offending anyone,” Sessler said. “I’m not afraid to be offensive, because that’s what makes people think.”

The Kumquat is often compared to The Onion, a professional satirical news organization, Sessler said. Both organizations use humor to convey greater messages, but The Kumquat tries to tailor its stories to campus-related news, he said.

Through word-of-mouth and social media, The Kumquat is quickly gaining a larger audience, Kuzoian said. The group is set to launch its website next week, he said. It will provide a more centralized location for content and a platform to share satirical articles instead of just videos.

Out of the articles and brief Facebook posts, the videos are the biggest productions, Kuzoian said. The videos involve specifically assigned writing teams and shooting in the studio with a crew and actors, he said. For the time being, their studio is a Newhouse classroom with a green sheet used as a makeshift green screen.

“Once more people learn about us, the possibilities will be endless,” Sessler said. “No one will be able to stand the might of the Kumquat.”

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