Gonzo journalism

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Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written subjectively, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word Gonzo was first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. The term has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.

Gonzo journalism tends to favor style over accuracy and often uses personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the topic or event being covered. It disregards the 'polished' edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more gritty approach. Use of quotations, sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.


Origin of the term

The term "Gonzo" was first used in connection with Hunter S. Thompson by The Boston Globe magazine editor Bill Cardoso in 1970. He described Thompson's "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved," which was written for the June 1970 Scanlan's Monthly, as "pure Gonzo journalism."[1] Cardoso claimed that "Gonzo" was South Boston Irish slang describing the last man standing after an all-night drinking marathon.[2] He also claimed that it was a corruption of the French Canadian word "gonzeaux," which means "shining path," although this is disputed.[3]

Another speculation is that the word may have been inspired by the 1960 hit song "Gonzo" by New Orleans rhythm and blues pianist James Booker. This last possibility seems to be supported by the 2007 oral biography of Thompson, which states that the term is taken from a song by Booker;[4] though, it does not explain why Thompson or Cardoso would have chosen the term to describe Thompson's journalism. According to a Greg Johnson biographical note on Booker,[5] the song title "Gonzo" comes from a character in a movie called The Pusher,[6] which in turn may have been inspired by a 1956 Evan Hunter novel of the same title.

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