Monday, February 21

Hunter Thompson's Legacy & Newsbreakers' Future?

Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson is dead.

He took his own life. Why is that not a surprise to me?

In our Rhetorics and Philosophies of Journalism Seminar at Duquesne University last semester we framed Thompson's work under the heading of "NEW JOURNALISM” where literary narratives, personal styles, great writing and critical thinking challenged the status quo of reporting.

Some argue that blogging will renew the new journalism call—but at it’s core, new journalism is about the writing—I walked away from that experience looking at Thompson’s "gonzo" journalism as a way of engaging in media criticism and reaching out to people who've become numb to the trappings of traditional news.

Hunter Thompson was indeed a journalism pioneer.,1413,36~53~2723492,00.html

While most people will reflect on Thompson’s work, I would like to consider his contempt for the establish media. Thompson was clearly a media critic challenging the conventions and policies of the media elite. I would like to think Thompson would have endorsed Newsbreakers.

The group's novel approach to media criticism picks up the Thompson mission by attacking television news and attempting to engage the younger demos.

These guys trash the stuffiness of media criticism and make it cool. With their identities concealed by silly masks and costumes, Newsbreakers' members claim to liberate live broadcasts by wandering into the live shots of local TV stations. They critique television news by mocking it with a blend of tactics and elements fresh from MTV's "Punk'd" and "Jackass" and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

The reactions they provoke in their attempts to gauge “the mood” around their stunts are hilarious. Those reactions also expose the hypocrisy and narcissism of local TV reporters, photographers and stations. However, punking live shots, regardless of being novel and funny, is what it is—a gimmick.

So the question is, what’s next? Newsbreakers wants to bring new life to media criticism, but can it move the discussion forward and grow beyond these stunts? I hope it can. I want to believe in the mission. Newsbreakers was successful in grabbing my attention. Now I'm waiting to see what happens next.

This organization has sparked discussion about the sedentary state of broadcast news. I'd like to think Hunter Thompson would give his blessing to Newsbreakers and its objectives of challenging the status quo.

I believe he would appreciate the rabble rousing of its masked members. I think Thompson would chuckle at the pranks and I think he would relish the reactions.

As Newsbreakers seeks to trigger a new era of media criticism may its crew also consider the legacy of Thompson and the truth in his writings.

"The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs."
--Hunter S. Thompson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hunter Thompson's work is so strange. Does it really qualify as journalism?