How Hunter S. Thompson Changed Journalism

Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the Gonzo Journalism Movement.


Born in Louisville, Kentucky, to a middle class family, Thompson’s father’s death left him in poverty and he had a trouble youth. He was unable to finish high school as he was incarcerated for 60 days after abetting a robbery. He subsequently joined the United States Air Force before moving into journalism.


Gonzo Journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first person narrative.


The word “gonzo” is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. Thompson based his style on William Faulkner’s notion that “fiction is often the best fact.” While the things Thompson wrote where mostly true, he used satirical devices to drive his points home. He often wrote about recreational drugs and alcohol use which added  subjective flair to his reporting. The term “gonzo” has also come into use to describe Thompson’s style, characterized by a drug fueled stream of consciousness writing technique.


Thompson felt that objectivity in journalism was a myth. Gonzo journalism has now become a bona fide style of writing.

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