By Austin and Matt


Hunter S. Thompson

One of the greatest American writers of our time, Hunter S. Thompson, had a lot to say about objectivity in journalism. In a 1997 interview by Matthew Hahn published in The Atlantic Monthly, Thompson said,

I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view… Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long…. the trick is that you have to use words well enough so that these nickle-and-dimers who come around bitching about being objective or the advertisers don’t like it are rendered helpless by the fact that it’s good… I don’t quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.”

Thompson invented Gonzo Journalism, a subset of journalism he describes as subjective, but a term he admits he’s “come to dislike because of the way it’s been cast: inaccurate, crazy.” In reality, he believed “[a]ll the journalists who are known, really, have been that way because they were subjective” which he felt described the term best. When asked how it compares to New Journalism, he claimed its “[i]ntertwined, in that it is no accident that Gonzo is in Tom Wolfe’s book The New Journalism [1973].” Critiques of New Journalism in the 1970’s called it journalism “of passion and advocacy” (Gerald Grant). Curtis D. MacDougal in the Sixth Edition of his Interpretative Reporting to New Journalism indexed many of its contemporary definitions: “Activist, advocacy, participatory, tell-it-as-you-see-it, sensitivity, investigative, saturation, humanistic, reformist and a few more.” Comparably, when Thompson was asked what the mission of his journalistic style was regardless of how he felt about Gonzo Journalism presently, he’s quoted: “ I can’t think in terms of journalism without thinking in terms of political ends. Unless there’s been a reaction, there’s been no journalism. It’s cause and effect.” Therefore he would agree, if something is written well, it doesn’t need to entice people with pictures, flashy graphics, or a catchy title like ‘Region in Revolt.’ Commenting on the uprisings in the Middle East, the homepage on the World News section of the New York Times April 6th, 2011 read this hoping to entice readers.

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