Posts Tagged ‘Hunter S. Thompson’
Hand-wringing over the state of journalism– especially the state of print journalism– is a feature of our times. As Will Mari reminds us, the profession has been here before…
In the late 1950s, TV news was on the rise, as more and more Americans (nearly 90 percent of them, in fact) were buying sets. As broadcasters competed with print journalists for breaking news, writers for newspapers and magazines were rethinking their role as storytellers and interpreters.
Sigma Delta Chi, later known as the Society of Professional Journalists, recognized this. The Quill, its magazine for reporters and editors, confronted the occupation’s many challenges. From embracing discussions of technological change, to discussing journalistic failings (like how to handle the next Sen. Joe McCarthy) and encouraging its members to mentor younger journalists, the organization and others like it played a big part in the professionalization of the field.
Cartoons in The Quill poked fun at newsroom life. Occupational humor, often of the gallows variety, was (and remains) a critical way for journalists to think about their profession. Cartoons also appeared in abundance in other trade publications, such as in the American Newspaper Guild’s Guild Reporter and Editor & Publisher. The former championed labor, and the latter presented publishers’ point of view.
The Quill walked a middle path. Its cartoons, some unsigned and others bylined, depict the inhabitants of the newsroom going about their daily business. The humor had a light, earnestly innocent feel. Sigma Delta Chi’s members also included broadcast journalists, but the cartoons were drawn mostly from the perspective of print reporters…
* Oscar Wilde
As we parse the new(s) paradigms, we might recall that it was on this date in 2005, in Woody Creek, Colorado, that the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were “blasted into the sky over his farm [there], carried by red, blue and silver fireworks in front of a 153-foot monument that Mr. Thompson, the writer and avatar of “gonzo” journalism, designed himself almost 30 years ago.”
It’s straight out of the pages of science fiction: a “wearable” book, which uses temperature controls and lighting to mimic the experiences of a story’s protagonist, has been dreamed up by academics at MIT.
The book, explain the researchers, senses the page a reader is on, and changes ambient lighting and vibrations to “match the mood”. A series of straps form a vest which contains a “heartbeat and shiver simulator”, a body compression system, temperature controls and sound.
“Changes in the protagonist’s emotional or physical state trigger discrete feedback in the wearable [vest], whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localised temperature fluctuations,” say the academics…
* C.S. Lewis
As we feel the protagonist’s pain, we might spare a thought for Hunter S. Thompson; he died, by his own hand, on this date in 2005. Father of the “Gonzo” school of reportage, in which reporters so involve themselves in the action they’re covering that they become central figures in the stories, HST was a pillar of the New Journalism movement (though he’d surely be horrified to hear it put that way).
The true voice of Thompson is revealed to be that of American moralist … one who often makes himself ugly to expose the ugliness he sees around him
– Hari Kunzru
Now, something even closer to your correspondent’s heart: miniature books.
Miniature books (generally defined as not exceeding 100 mm [3.9 inches] in height, width or thickness) first came into fashion in the late Fifteenth Century, when the tiny tomes were produced as novelties. Soon, printers began producing the small volumes to show off their skills.
Hungarian collector Jozsef Tari has been collecting miniature books and newspapers since 1972; his library now includes more than 4500 volumes of Lilliputian literature.
More on miniature books and Tari’s collection at Web Urbanist (from whence, the photos above).
As we reach for a smaller duster, we might bake a laced cake for journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson; he was born in Louisville on this date in 1929. The author of Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is widely credited as the creator of the Gonzo school of journalism (an extreme form of New Journalism in which the reporter isn’t simply present, he/she is central), and widely remembered for his love of inebriates and guns and for his hate of authoritarianism in general and Richard Nixon in particular.
…the massive, frustrated energies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to choose immediately between a Ford and a Chevy.
– Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
A manager’s lot has always been a hard one; but in these troubled times, aggravated by the challenge of motivating a work force that’s fearful and confused, it’s downright daunting.
See them all here.
As we get in touch with our inner gonzo, we might light a birthday candle for Sir Francis Bacon– English Renaissance philosopher, lawyer, linguist, composer, mathematician, geometer, musician, poet, painter, astronomer, classicist, philosopher, historian, theologian, architect, father of modern science (The Baconian– aka The Scientific– Method), and patron of modern democracy, whom some allege was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I of England… but who was in any event born on this date in 1561.
Bacon (whose Essays were, in a fashion, the first “management book” in English) was, in Alexander Pope’s words, “the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any country, ever produced.” He probably did not actually write the plays attributed to Shakespeare (as a thin, but long, line of scholars and observers, including Mark Twain and Friedrich Nietzsche, believed). But Bacon did observe, in a discussion of sedition that’s as timely today as ever, that “the remedy is worse than the disease.”