A Word With Sarah Wood - Journalism Week

What good are politics if you can’t see the humor in it all? And what’s the news without good satire to challenge it? The folks behind the website Free Wood Post saw the intersection between such realities and truths, and decided to create a publication that capitalizes on the divergence between what’s being said and what should be said. In turn, they made a source for everything in between.

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a favorite target of Free Wood Post.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

The news site is primarily aimed at drawing laughs, but it also means to make a statement. It categorizes its stories by novelty; sections include “Almost News,” “Shady Facts,” “Vile Vociferations,” and “Cartoons.” Take it as seriously as necessary. The more laughter that ensues, the more likely there is to be a truth hidden with the fiction. But, per their disclaimer, the posts are only “semi-real or fictitious ways.”

BTR talked to Editor-in-Chief Sarah Wood, who explained the inspiration behind the Free Wood Post, the controversies it sparked, and why it may be a little more ahead of the game than the rest.

BTR: Free Wood Post shares similarities with The Onion, of course, but there are also reflections of sites like Huffington Post and The New Yorker. Where did the concept for this begin, and what would you say is your trademark?

SW: The concept began as we noticed an increased absurdity coming out of the political spectrum, mostly from the conservative side of the aisle, granted both sides offer us ample amounts of material. We wanted people to know that our articles were fake, but really bring in the reality of what is going on. We wanted people to think, “Well, they might say that.” Sort of exaggerated truths, so to speak, and we’ve been able to bring in a number of extremely talented writers who share that vision of making the absurd seem even more ridiculous.

BTR: What’s the funniest subject matter to satirize in your opinion and why?

SW: That’s a tough question. There’s been so much to talk about it, but listening to the most recent conservative standpoint on women and their reproductive rights has been hysterical. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. That, and poking fun at the obvious disconnect the Romneys have with everyday Americans.

BTR: Have you received any backlash for your stories? What topics have been most controversial?

SW: We’ve been fact-checked a lot, which is good and bad. It’s good because people are reading our articles, but bad as well as sad because they are apparently so close to the truth that they are being mistaken as actually occurring. The most controversial being Ann Romney’s stance on women, and Mitt Romney’s disconnect from the African-American community.

BTR: How do you see Free Wood Post evolving?

SW: By keeping current, being more thought-provoking, and perhaps dipping further into the realm of pop culture. If it’s controversial, we’re probably going to take a jab at it. We plan to call out the BS when we see it by making it seem even more preposterous.

BTR: Why do you think entertainment like this makes for a valuable part of our culture?

SW: It points out truths we don’t always want to see, and grabs people’s attention. When we see a real news story that makes us mad, or an issue that is often pushed under the rug for PR purposes, we seek to drag it out, spray paint it fluorescent yellow, and make sure the world sees it for the absurdity that it is. Even if that means exaggerating the truth. It gets the conversation started.