This just in: conservative Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka apologizes for a racy magazine spread; UTA’s FrontRunner Train is a Republican ploy to ship liberals off to the desert. Oh, and Sandy’s mayor wants a State Capitol to match his unpopular Real Soccer Stadium – one with “a minimum of seven domes.”
It’s all true. Really. At least, according to the headlines in The Regal Seagull, a weekly satirical newspaper dedicated to lampooning Utah’s particular (and often peculiar) culture, celebrities and, of course, politics. And QSaltLake readers might not be surprised to learn that one of its most popular columnists is behind it.
“I mean, come on, it’s Utah. We’re ripe with bullshit,” said Ryan Shattuck, who writes QSaltLake’s “Load of Bullshattuck” column and who came up with the idea for the paper in January. A few months before, he had applied for a freelance position at The Onion, a national newspaper that satirizes politics from around the country and the world. Although the parody paper eventually turned him down, Shattuck said he found that he enjoyed writing the sample “fake news articles” for the parody paper’s consideration. Plus, he thought it was high time that Utah had a satirical publication. So he talked the idea over with some friends and put up an add on classified ad site craigslist.com announcing a meeting to plan a satirical paper at Brewvies. Five people showed up and four meetings later The Regal Seagull was born.
Of course, the history on the paper’s Web site is far more colorful. According to it Joseph “Bitch Tits” Christensen Young Smith, a muckraking journalist and saloon manager with ties to Brigham Young, founded the paper in Utah in 1839 – eight years before Young and co. arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Since then, the paper has played an important role in U.S. history, bringing the Beatles to America, posing as Watergate informant Deep Throat and even killing famed labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and whose body has not been discovered.
“Sorry,” the paper says of the murder.
And it’s also an NAACP Spirit Award-winner and “Utah’s #1 News Resource.”
The first issue of the currently Web-only paper came out on April 28. And surprisingly, Shattuck said, so far reactions to its outrageous stories have been entirely positive.
“It’s kind of surprising, but we’re seeing how far we can push the envelope,” he laughed.
And what Regal Seagull fans are saying, he added, is that Utah needs to laugh at itself.
“I’ve been told by several people that we’re on the cusp of something and this is what Utah needs,” Shattuck said.
Utah needs stories about protesters protesting protesters on Main Street and ubiquitous coffee giant Starbucks opening a Temple Square branch? Yes, said Shattuck, because the state is so divided along political and religious lines (that is, conservative/liberal, Mormon and non-Mormon) that it’s often difficult to do anything but squabble.
“What we do as columnists is throw barbs at the side we disagree with and they throw barbs back – we make fun of conservatives as stupid, or liberals as stupid.” And by reporting on fake news events in the straightforward way that a real paper might, Shattuck said he and the paper’s other writers hope to get Utahns to laugh at everyone’s ridiculous behavior, regardless of politics or religion.
“See, Utah is so god damned self righteous and afraid for its image that it’s fun to write something and make fun of [Utahns] as if we’re on their side,” Shattuck said.
From its fictional history to its straightforward treatment of outlandish news events, The Regal Seagull is obviously inspired by The Onion.
“To people who would call it a rip-off, I say you’re 100% correct,” Shattuck laughed. “But who can find an original idea anymore? We’re also doing different things that The Onion doesn’t do and making the paper specifically geared towards Utah.
While Shattuck eventually hopes to be able to pay writers, produce a print version and even have a physical office for the paper, he said the goal right now is just to make readers laugh.
“You’ve seen the one with Gayle [“Gayle Ruzicka apologizes for racy photo spread in Vanity Fair,” May 12], right?” he asked. “I kind of want to email it to her just to see what she’d say.”
Visit “Utah’s #1 News Source” at regalseagull.com .