Writers 2 Remember: Hunter S. Thompson

Writer who popularized Gonzo Journalism

Hunter S. Thompson was an interesting man. Often a rebel, hunter had many clashes with authority, but his iconoclastic beliefs helped to guide him into the man he became. It shaped how he looked at the world and forged him into one of the forefathers of the New Journalism movement. His writing style lead to what he called, Gonzo Journalism.

Gonzo journalism is about putting the writer in the midst of the story as the protagonist. It brings fictional techniques into nonfiction texts to make the story more engaging. Often, it means that the journalist has immersed themselves in the field to gather first-hand experience, observation, interviews – to get real life research based on tangible data. This is what the New Journalism movement was about, and it lead to many nonfiction anthologies and novels.

Now, Hunter S. Thompson reminds me of Nellie Bly in the fact he basically used investigative journalism techniques she created. However, what sets him apart is that he and his cohorts removed the objectivity from their writing. Instead of simply giving the facts, they injected their own views and perceptions. Humor, profanity, sarcasm, and exaggeration are commonly used in Gonzo journalism, as well.

DocumentaryTube.com says this: “Two aspects are key in Gonzo journalism. The two postulates are ‘becoming part of the story’ and ‘exposing the truth by lying’. Gonzo made not telling the truth an acceptable norm in journalism. The style has been used to validate “assumptions” and prove greater points.

I think we can all see the danger with this type of journalism. It opens stories up to speculation and conjecture. It might be the reason we now have “fake news” – who knows? I can see where this can be useful – how it can and has created nonfiction writing as a genre, making it entertaining and compelling – yet, there is need of caution. At any rate, for his unique contribution to both journalism and literature alike, I believe Hunter S. Thompson is a writer to remember.

Leave a Reply