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Matt Saincome and Michael O'Connell pose for a photo at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

393. Hard Times: When The Onion isn’t edgy enough

Like so many other younger siblings, Matt Saincome just wanted to hang out with, and be like, his older brother. 

Since his brother was listening to punk bands from The Ramones and Black Flag to Minor Threat, that’s what Saincome listened to as well, from the time he was in elementary school. He tricked his parents into getting a mohawk, kind of, by spiking his hair for a weird hair day in fourth grade. It stuck. 

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that, after going into journalism school at San Francisco State and realizing he had more fun, and reached more people, writing jokes that took 30 minutes than he did writing a full-length feature story that took a month to complete, he combined his love of punk music with his love of writing. 

Saincome is one of the co-founders of The Hard Times, a hardcore music and satire magazine that has also spawned a book. 

Hard Times was something where I looked at the New York Times and then I saw Vice. You have a legacy organization and then the younger, edgier version,” he says. “I looked at The Onion and saw there wasn’t a younger, edgier version (and thought) what if I start Vice Onion? That was my original notion.” 

Utilizing his familiarity and love of punk music and the ethos around it with his journalism training, he and co-founder Bill Conway have been keeping punk snarky and fun for several years. 

The publication has been embraced by punk fans and bands as well, something Saincome attributes to his knowledge of the crowd and his roots. 

“There’s always been two veins in punk and hardcore, the super serious political vein and then the troublemaking comedy vein,” he says. “You have the Dead Kennedys with super political stuff, though they had plenty of humor in their politics as well. Then you have troublemakers like Fear who are more out to fight the crowd. There’s a politics side or an escapist side. I think Hard Times is definitely in that escapist camp, creating fun and levity through satire and taking all the ideologies of punk and self-serious people, flipping them upside down with satirical tools and seeing if they hold up to jokes. Sometimes they don’t and that’s fun too.” 
Producer Michael O’Connell is joined by Matt Saincome, co-founder and writer with The Hard Times, to discuss the satirical punk and hardcore music publication and why it’s all his older brother’s fault.

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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