A critical examination of Gonzo Journalism and the feasibility of the genre to function in today's media environment.

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Moynihan, Alan
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Arts
Dublin Business School
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The aim of my thesis is to critically investigate and examine the theme of "Gonzo Journalism" as found in the writing of Hunter S. Thompson and also tries to answer the question as to why "Gonzo Journalism" is no longer feasible in today's media due to contributing factors like Political Economics. The thesis itself is divided up into five chapters. The first chapter focuses on the origins and gives an explanation of the term "Gonzo Journalism". The chapter also examines 'New Journalism', the term coined by Tom Wolfe. It is my belief that the "Gonzo Journalism" was born out of Wolfe's "New Journalism". The second chapter deals with the notion of 'conventional' or 'objective' journalism as opposed to Gonzo Journalism. Central to Gonzo journalism is the notion that journalism can be more truthful without strict observance of traditional rules of factual reportage. In Gonzo Journalism the reporter and the quest for information are central, with other considerations taking a back seat. The chapter also examines the political economy that governs the media today and how it impacts on Gonzo Journalism. The third chapter examines Thompson's writing style in greater detail. This chapter focuses mainly on two of Thompson's signature works. The 1972 book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" which first appeared in the November 1971 issues of Rolling Stone as a two-part series. The success of the book allowed Thompson to introduce his Gonzo journalism techniques to the masses. The other work examined is Thompson's 1966 book "Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs". The publishing of this book allowed Thompson to publish articles in a number of well-known magazines during the late 1960s and paved the way for him to write "The Vegas Book" as he used refer to it. The fourth chapter is a critical valuation of Thompson's writing in the two books mentioned above and also other published works like "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" and to a lesser extent "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" in which Thompson covered the election campaigns of President Richard Nixon and his unsuccessful opponent, Senator George McGovern. The concluding chapter will consider the findings of the preceding chapters and will comment on Thompson's legacy left behind following his death on February 20th, 2005.