Thursday, March 24, 2005

"I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours. ~H.S.T.

I know I'm a month late in posting this, but I wanted to lament the loss of one of journalism's greatest minds. Hunter S. Thompson's suicide came as a total shock. A friend of mine who shares in my Thompson adoration, text messaged me with the horrible news the night it actually happened. I'm sure the entire nation thought exactly the same thing: "Of all the craziness Thompson subjected himself to, all the illegal substances he reveled in experimenting with, all the gun-toting escapades he led, how on earth could he die like this?" It's truly tragic, but that's not the important part of the story. Thompson was a legend in his own right.
Some journalists may chuckle at notions that Thompson was a serious journalist -- but I think he was. He added innovation to the job during a time in American history that definitely needed a fresh voice and angle in the field. His reporting of Nixon came in a form unheard of before then. I was obviously not old enough to realize when the birth of gonzo journalism actually occurred, but its effects are indelible. However, I think the latest generations of journalists don't know much about the man who chronicled a journey to the heart of the American Dream. If this generation has read his reports, it's usually his more recent writings for ESPN or Rolling Stone. If his death brings anything, I hope it leads more young reporters to read his works and gain insight into how each journalist can be a fresh voice among the legions.
In a time when media consumers hear the same story told the same way several times in one day, innovators like Thompson showed journalists how their passion for life and for reporting can be revealed simultaneously -- in their work.

Just two more quotes:
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
"Publishers are notoriously slothful about numbers, unless they're attached to dollar signs -- unlike journalists, quarterbacks, and felony criminal defendants who tend to be keenly aware of numbers at all times."
To sample the cruder side of gonzo journalism, visit


Anonymous pbo.... said...


love your writing and your appreciation for ol'hunter. he was great, beyond fear and loathing. however, i think he wanted to go out the way he did. i know suicide is considered to be a desperate and lonely action, but i think it was what he wanted, and that he felt it was time. he lived a full life, and i think he felt it was time to call it a day and to be shot out of a cannon, but who knows what was actually going on in his head the entire time...

1:51 AM  

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