Gonzo journalism

Posted by Smokey Stover on February 21, 2005

In Reply to: Gonzo journalism posted by ESC on February 21, 2005

: GONZO - Noun 1. a wild, aggressive, or eccentric person. 2. (journalism) eccentricity or craziness. Adjective. Introduced by Hunter S. Thompson in "Rolling Stone" (Nov. 11, 1971) to characterize his own style of subjective, creative, hyperbolic, strongly satirical journalism. Perhaps from the Italian "gonzo" for simpleton. From Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. A second reference also says it is probably the Italian word for simpleton. 20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999).

: 'Gonzo' Journalist Thompson Kills Self
: Mon Feb 21, 7:55 AM ET
: By David Kelly Times Staff Writer

: DENVER - Hunter S. Thompson, the counterculture literary figure who rode with the Hells Angels, famously chronicled the Nixon-McGovern presidential race and coined the term "gonzo journalism," committed suicide Sunday night at his secluded home outside Aspen, Colo., his son said. Thompson was 67.

: Thompson called what he did "gonzo journalism," differentiating it from mainstream reporting by aggressively injecting himself into the story and giving up any pretense of objectivity.

: Thompson's style of journalism - well-armed, well-drugged and wildly iconoclastic - made him a counterculture figure of rare longevity.

: "I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone . but they've always worked for me," Thompson said.

It's true that Hunter Thompson introduced the term "gonzo journalism." But it has since migrated to other areas; "free-wheeling" is an adjective that comes to mine, but it would be wrong to dismiss Thompson's journalism as negligible or wrong-headed. He wrote well, even if frequently on subjects considered too trivial or too something else to report. Thompson reported for "Rolling Stone" on the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Not permitted to get onto the floor of the Convention with other reporters, Thompson interviewed one of the hookers trolling at the Convention. (They weren't allowed in, either.) The interview revealed something I thought interesting: the hookers greatly preferred the Republican Convention to the Democratic one, because business was so much better. On the way back from the Convention Hunter had a nice chat with the fellow in the next seat, who happened to be the Secretary of Agriculture. The Secretary told a racy--and racist--joke, which Hunter repeated in "Rolling Stone." The joke, or his reporting of it, got the Secretary fired. SS