How The Onion’s Lead Video Writer Makes His Team More Creative

Comedy writer Matt Klinman has found several ways to get creative people to do their best work.

How The Onion’s Lead Video Writer Makes His Team More Creative
Matt Klinman, head writer at Onion Video [Photo: Kyle Thompson for Fast Company]

After almost 30 years, The Onion remains an essential source of satire, but these days the laughs are as likely to come from a video as a clever headline. To keep the site vital, Matt Klinman has had to think carefully about managing his staff.

Go With The Group

Klinman encourages everyone to toss out ideas freely; the team decides what works. “We pitch so much stuff, and we encourage everyone to pitch from every aspect of their psyches,” he said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in November. “You trust people around you to pick the best [material]. If you have that, you feel comfortable reaching deep.”

Be A True Unit

To reinforce that sense of teamwork, Klinman de-emphasizes individual contributions. “We’re all doing one thing together. Every idea, every script, every draft we do [is worked on by] everybody. And when it goes out to [the world], we don’t have bylines. We’re all standing as one voice.”

Build A Safe Space

Unhappiness is a major creativity killer, and Klinman needs his staff to concentrate. “Good work comes from people who are not panicking. [I want to make] sure stress and craziness don’t filter down to the writers, so they can focus on writing from their heart.”


More Stories