“News has always been a part of our everyday business, but more so lately. We’re inundated, completely immersed by it,” said Joshua Neiderer, British and American literature student and staff writer on satirical news site LushForLife.com. Following in the footsteps of The Onion and shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Lush for Life, with three of its five major players currently attending USF, takes an incisive look at current events and provides readers with a tongue-in-cheek perspective on the hottest topics.
Neiderer, who is also assistant news editor of The Oracle, has been an active participant on the site for nearly a year. Under the pseudonym Porcious Crank, Neiderer has developed into one of Lush for Life’s most frequent and longest-running contributors. Because he is a friend of the site’s creators, Neiderer got involved soon after Lush for Life was up and running, and he’s been having a blast ever since.
“Not only is it fun to write and funny to read, but it can affect change eventually one day,” he said.
Last year, the site was started by four young men with aspirations of creating an online venue for them to express their thoughts through writing. A faux news story was posted merely to test the site’s layout, but the overwhelmingly positive comments and remarkable number of hits it received prompted the creation of Lush for Life in its current form. Although some alcohol was involved in the initial conception of the site and its bizarre name, the group’s wild idea has played out beautifully. Now the site has 12 writers on staff and contributors from around the globe.
In a media-obsessed landscape where the personal lives of Paris Hilton and Brad Pitt become top stories and 24-hour news networks supply endless streams of information from across the world, the demand for this brand of humor seems unparalleled.”Some of the stuff that goes on in the world is so ridiculous that to cover it in any conventional sense would be silly,” said Greg Ross-Munro, The Oracle’s business manager also known by the Lush for Life alias Duncan Idaho.
Ross-Munro, a business administration student who founded the site with journalism students Jacob Tillman and Casey Kent, believes that Lush for Life is representative of the times. According to Kent, today’s news lends itself to such facetious, liberal-minded treatment, especially given the frequent controversies at the forefront of the media spotlight.
“The biggest inspiration for the site is the mass media,” said Kent, a.k.a. Egbert SouzÃ©, the site’s senior editor. “We were just sick of hearing everything, and when that happens, where do you turn?”
Perhaps it’s this attitude that caused Google to declare Lush for Life too “obscene” to feature Google ads. Tillman, who uses the alias Danny Albertson on the site, is quick to point out that this is the only negative feedback the site has received thus far and that the overall response to the site has been fantastic.
The ultimate goal, Kent said, is to be accepted as a form of media and to present unbiased accounts for those disillusioned by the sorry state of mainstream media coverage. However, Tillman has a simpler objective.
“We’re exposed to lots of ridiculous things,” said Tillman, who is a staff writer for The Oracle. “Everything is stupid, and we feel we should tell everyone about it.”
So it would appear that the site’s ambition is to enlighten its readers by highlighting the absurdity that surrounds them.
“Satire’s always been a powerful tool to affect change,” Neiderer said. “Although it’s a small Web site currently, it could grow.”
While Lush for Life has yet to achieve the notoriety afforded to other sites of its kind, the page already boasts an impressive 100,000 hits a month. In addition, the site is currently in negotiations with Humor Times in Sacramento, Calif., which will soon begin reprinting the site’s articles. Given the public’s insatiable craving for topical humor, Lush for Life will likely continue to inform, amuse and stimulate discussion for years to come.