The Pitiful News fosters creative community for Pitt comedians


Alyssa Carnevalli | Staff Photographer

Members of The Pitiful News at a meeting in the Cathedral of Learning on Monday night.

By Katelyn Kruszewski, Staff Writer

The Pitiful News members hover over bright laptop screens, giggling and bantering with their friends. It’s dark outside, but no one is going anywhere. Everyone sits at their desk, anxious to contribute to a shared Google document for the club’s first meeting of the semester. 

The Pitiful News, a satirical student-run online publication, meets every Monday night in the Cathedral of Learning. The organization mimics the structure of parody news source The Onion, supplying comedic articles for Pitt students on their website and social media platforms. Their articles include pieces such as “The most important questions recruiters will ask you” and “Music categories at the Grammys you have never heard of.”

The student publication will make a return to print this year after its two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. The organization hopes to bring The Pittiful News Network back as well. PNN was a video content platform that included sketch comedy bits based off of The Onion’s YouTube videos.

Ella Mizera, the organization’s business manager and a junior theater major, said The Pitiful News writes group parody articles together during meetings.

“Usually our group articles that we write together are listicals or parody emails,” Mizera said.

Evan Rafferty, the club president and a junior public and professional writing major, elaborated on how the group edits Pitt administrative emails to create parody pieces.

“We like to go through the emails and just change the words to make it kind of ridiculous, those are fun,” Rafferty said.

The Pitiful News welcomes any student interested in writing their own comedic articles. The club then shares the articles on its social platforms and website. Rafferty said the club focuses on producing satirical news for entertainment purposes.

“It’s more focused on satire news, making fake news for humorous misinformation purposes,” Rafferty said. “But it’s become a lot more than that, such as posting comedy. If you want to write something fun we do it here, we do more narrative stuff as opposed to headlines.”

Students pitch ideas for the paper, and topics vary from fake advice columns to satirical current events. One of their most recent articles claimed that South Oakland replaced sidewalks with water slides.

Members of The Pitiful News at a meeting in the Cathedral of Learning on Monday night.
(Alyssa Carnevalli | Staff Photographer )

Rafferty said the club gathers pitch ideas from Twitter, real world events and celebrity news.

“We get a lot of pitches from people in the club, taking a lot of different perspectives from things that we might not even realize can be parodied,” Rafferty said.

Ben Adams, the club’s vice president and a sophomore computer science major, said an example of their real-world arts and entertainment parodies include a piece poking fun at musical sensation Lin Manuel Miranda for seemingly writing every hit song.

“My most recent article I think was ‘Five songs you might not have realized Lin Manuel-Miranda wrote.’ It stemmed from the fact that I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is just writing for everything!’” Adams said. “It was just kind of something we saw in real life and decided to repurpose for people to have fun with.”

The club accepts a large variety of pitches from its members. Mizera said the group is lenient with what they consider comedy, varying from dry humor to slapstick comedy.

“Whatever you want,” Mizera said. “We’re very flexible on what’s funny, too.”

Members make tweets, articles, social media bits, videos and images to help pitch their own potential project ideas at meetings.

Adams said each meeting ends with a writing exercise that the club sometimes publishes to the website.

“The normal cycle is people come, we have a time designated to share pitches, they give their pitch, they come back a couple weeks later, a couple months later, we read it over and it gets published,” Adams said. 

Rafferty said the group writes for the Pitt community.

“Our audience is mainly geared towards the Pitt community. We make fun of University life a lot, so people who are more familiar with here, but we talk about the Pittsburgh area,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty expressed his excitement for the news source to return to print and said he looks forward to starting the paper’s print process.

“In terms of print stuff, that is a big endeavor. People who want to write multiple articles that are published maybe once a month,” Rafferty said. “It’d be cool to have something physical.”