‘Gonzo’ Journalism

Bill Cardoso, an American writer and editor, coined the slang word “Gonzo” to brand the off-the-wall and over-the-top journalism of  Hunter S. Thompson. “Gonzo” sprang to life after  Cardoso read  Thompson’s seminal sport’s article “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,”in 1970. The raw disorder, odd humor and piercing insight  became Mr. Thompson’s trademarks.

I looked up some definitions of the word and found some interesting results:

  • of, relating to, or being a style of journalism marked by a lack of objectivity due to the writer’s immersion in the subject and often participation in the activity being documented.
  • (of journalism) explicitly including the writer’s feelings at the time of witnessing the events or undergoing the experiences written about.
  • extreme, unconventional, or bizarre: gonzo artwork; a gonzo snowboarding style.
  • a wild or crazy person.
  • when it comes to pornography the term ‘Gonzo’ porn took the storyline out of adult movies and headed straight for the sex. No longer would the pornoholic have to fast forward through 10 minutes of inept dialog to get 5 minutes of sex. They got sex throughout the whole video.

Other names for gonzo journalism are outlaw journalism, new journalism, alternative journalism and literary cubism.

This is also a form of Immersive Journalim but from the perspective of the reporter being immersed in the story/events he is writing about as opposed to the reader.

Some examples of  reporters who have become part of the community they are reporting on include Louis Theroux, Stacey Dooley and Reggie Yates. I also discovered a French Journalist, Florence Aubenas who signed on the unemployment register for a firsthand experience of the job seeker’s life.


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