About seven months ago two BYU students were volunteering at a soup kitchen discussing the news of the day when they agreed that the “major” news stories were being largely ignored.
After a bit of brainstorming, friends Taylor Larsen and Steven van Dijk began a BYU-themed satire paper called the BunYion to cover those “major” stories.
“My question is why is The Universe skipping so much of the real news?” said Larsen, who is a Portuguese major. “We’re doing the important stories you guys aren’t willing to cover.”
The BunYion is a satire paper mostly covering stories relevant to the BYU community. The “important” stories include pieces about BYU statues breaking the honor code, a new BYU California campus and even a piece about Justin Bieber attending BYU as part of a court order. The editors rarely speak un-satirically, so writing the paper comes second nature. Van Dijk mentioned it was interesting how many people take their stories seriously.
“We still get emails all the time, like, ‘Where can I get more information about BYU–California, I really want to apply, where’s the website, is this for real?'” said van Dijk, a psychology major.
The BunYion has scored several viral posts, measuring around 30,000 hits a day. The most popular was the piece about the LDS Church running the government during the shutdown last October; it had over 100,000 hits the day it opened.
“It’s getting pretty big,” van Dijk said. “We just wish people would read their scriptures, read the BunYion, go to bed. And if you only have time for one … read the BunYion, because we have spiritual stuff in there too!”
All of the revenue currently comes from advertisements posted on the website. The group says even with all the hits, the current profit sits only at about $50, but they have hope for the future.
“I want (something like this) to turn into a career,” Larsen said. “I think I can make it happen; I just have to dedicate to it.”
Larsen mentioned “click-bait” stories tend to get the majority of the hits, though he wishes the stories with less-catchy headlines would be noticed as well.
“(Students) need to read the articles,” he said. “We get these sensational headlines, like ‘Bieber,’ and they’ll click on it. But when we get to the important stories, no one reads them. Like, there’s a missionary on Mars and no one wants to talk about it.”
BunYion reporter Brian Warden, who claimed to be a corporate dance major, agreed and said they created the BunYion to publish stories the world has been missing.
“I just think some stories can’t go untold,” he said.