Gonzo is dead

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

I suppose I should really say something about the death of Hunter S Thompson. Many of the reports of his death have described him as a writer but, to me, he was a journalist. His self-invented style of gonzo journalism which pushed the hack himself into the story even as it pushed any attempt at objectivity out, defined feature writing for the next few generations. Every time you read a journalist like, say, Deborah Ross who pushes herself into many of her pieces, you’re seeing a little piece of the dead man’s influence.

As many obituaries and opinion pieces have commented, his recent work hasn’t really had the impact of his 70s writing, but any journalist whose work is primarily based on shock value is unlikely to be able to sustain that for long – look at Julie Burchill. But he still changed the way people write, and for that, we should be grateful.

Further Reading:

Up The Creek – Warren Ellis, who write the superb Transmetropolitan (a series that re-ignites my passion for my trade every time I read it) makes some valid points about Thompson’s death.

Population: One: Hunter S. Thompson: RIP – Bryant calls for an end to pale imitators of Thompson’s style, which I completely endorse.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.