Never Too Late: Enduring Vision Un-Retires After Winning 3rd Annual HumorFeed Competition
Satire site The Enduring Vision, after almost seven years and over 2,000 articles, had pretty much run its course, thought founder Josh Righter. He officially retired the Vision in 2007. Then, something unexpected happened: he ended up taking first place in the 3rd annual HumorFeed awards. A panel of writers and journalists selected his story, Ford To Market Car Bomb Models In Iraq, as the top story of the year.
"Honestly, I had no real plans to come back until this whole award thing happened," said Righter. "It's something that I've always had a love-hate relationship with, mostly because of the time commitment."
Righter, 23, who does website design and email management for a small marketing firm, founded Enduring Vision with a friend while still in high school. He currently co-produces the site with Scott Borchert and some occasional contributors, such as Michael Less, who provided the idea for the winning story.
"To start with we just hoped that some other kids would read it and laugh," said Righter. "But a few weeks later, one of the stories about a Playstation got linked on a Nintendo fansite, and we got a ton of hits."
As the years passed, the Enduring Vision's focus expanded beyond video games to encompass an increasingly sophisticated range of political stories.
"We would dabble in politics in the early days, though our understanding of the political process was pretty amateur," said Righter. "But current events drove us to take an interest and get better. I would see something on the news and say 'I can't believe that guy just said that!' We really amped up our political commentary as time went on."
Righter noted that, since he founded the Enduring Vision, the entire online satire community has evolved as well, offering more diverse and sophisticated material today.
"HumorFeed has definitely grown since it started [in 2003]," he said. "I can remember a small handful of sites having the same sort of stories each day... there wasn't the sheer diversity of websites that HumorFeed has today." (Enduring Vision was one of HumorFeed's founding members.)
"Hitting Detroit and the war in the space of a few well-chosen lines is a winner," said panelist Robert Zelnick about Enduring Vision's winning entry.
He also noted that satire has followed general shifts in Internet content, adapting to new multimedia formats along with mainstream news outlets. The Enduring Vision itself produced a satirical historical film, Winthrop and the Savages, in 2006.
"Satire has not been immune to the trend in video that's hit the rest of the Internet hard," said Righter. "I've also noticed the proliferation of satire masquerading as other forms, such as satirical blogs. That's the great thing about satire - whenever there's a new trend, someone is always ready to use it to poke fun... But I think there will always be an audience for written satirical news; we'll just have to work harder to be heard over 'sexier' forms of humor."
Righter's plans for the future are uncertain, but receiving the award has revitalized his focus; rebounding after a nearly year-long hiatus, the Enduring Vision has published several articles so far in 2008 - with more potentially to come.
"I can't say where we'll be in a year, but it's my hope to continue updating when we can," said Righter. "I know the world wouldn't be nearly as informed without us, so it's sort of my patriotic duty to update."