Monday, February 21, 2005

Gonzo Gone But Not Forgotten: The Roots of Weblogging Rest in Peace

The New York Times and just about everyone else who can get their fingers on a keyboard notes the apparent suicide of pioneering journalist Hunter S. Thompson, founder of the self-described school of "Gonzo" journalism in which his own antics played a vital role in his reportage of various political and social scenes from the rebellious 1960's onward. A difficult personality to a veritable science and not one to take lightly assaults on his outlook or style, Thompson provided a unique and fearless individualistic voice in magazines, books and papers that only loosely could be called edited content. He was the inspiration of countless self-styled journalists who believed in the importance of their own personality and outlook as part of a story, even when they lacked their muse's inherent insights, presaging the individuality that now pervades so many weblogs and other self-styled online content sources. Like Thompson, today's webloggers put it out there in the raw and create pieces that are important as much as for their unvarnished personal narrative as they are for any facts that may surface through their insights. While loose cannons oftentimes explode and go forgotten rather quickly Thompson managed to create a legacy for both his content and his style that has now outlived him in every sense. The importance of his "Gonzo" style may wane over time as widely distributed self-expression leaves the control of mass media outlets, but the courage to be seen for who we are in public venues will find strength from his example for a long time to come.
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