With Borowitz acquisition, NewYorker.com launches a new humor vertical (Updated)

The magazine's Web presence is expanding, says its online editor

NewYorker.com’s acquisition of Andy Borowitz’s The Borowitz Report isn’t the only thing that’s new to the site on Wednesday. The acquisition was part of the launch of the site’s new online humor channel, with The Borowitz Report, a Daily Shouts blog, and a humor index page that aggregates all of the magazine’s non-cartoon humor.

Web editor Nicholas Thompson told CJR that the new vertical is part of the site’s attempt to “figure out the things that are part of The New Yorker’s DNA that we can do well on the Web.” Thompson, who took over the Web editorship in March, says “a lot of energy” is being committed to the website: “We’re all working very hard, and it’s a huge priority to the magazine, and it’s a priority to the company. So we’re looking to expand and improve in any way we can.”

To that end, the Books & Fiction section and its Page-Turner blog also launched recently, in May. That and the humor section, Thompson says, are online extensions of the weekly magazine’s style and form—while The Borowitz Report is new to the site, Borowitz has written for the magazine since 1998.

“It seemed like a good match,” Thompson said. “We all think [Borowitz] is just about the funniest person on the Internet … we’re going to help increase Borowitz’s audience and Borowitz will bring people to us.”

Thompson wouldn’t say how the site is planning to expand next, but there certainly are plans: “We’re probably going to add a couple more categories and a couple more blogs. You can’t do it infinitely, so you sort of have to pick and choose the right people and the right categories.”

UPDATE: Andy Borowitz told CJR in an email that “it’s an honor” to be at NewYorker.com; “There’s no better real estate in the media world.” According to Borowitz, New Yorker editor David Remnick approached him about selling The Borowitz Report: “I was not looking to sell the site, otherwise - I was very happy, minding my own little business.”

Why sell at all? Borowitz said NewYorker.com appealed to him, in part, because “I thought my audience could grow if I teamed up with The New Yorker, and based on my first day, at least, that looks like a good bet.” Thompson agreed, saying the plan is to “increase Borowitz’s audience” while “Borowitz will bring people to us.”

Borowitz wrote that he doesn’t have any immediate plans to change The Borowitz Report (“David [Remnick] asked me just to keep doing what I’ve been doing”) but that he’s “always toying with the format” and trying to “break the fake-news mold.”

As for NewYorker.com’s new humor channel, Borowitz said it “has so many funny writers on it. I think it’ll do very well.” And his new home has given him at least one thing to aspire to: getting his teeth as white as those of his new icon. “I’m blinded by how white my teeth are. I will never achieve that in real life.”

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison. Tags: , ,