Hunter S. Thompson: You’re My Hero

So journalism, at least in its traditional sense, is pretty much dead.  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really follow the news; I don’t care for it.  Does that mean I’m uninformed?  Not really.  Maybe I’m a product of this generation and I prefer my news in short blurbs as opposed to entire two page spreads.  Why go for a whole article when I can have it summarized for me, especially if it’s on a topic I’m not particularly interested in?  I get the information I need to know without being an expert on the subject.  I understand the need for watchdog reporting, and unless it’s in regard to something that I find exciting or that directly affects me, I have no real desire to have all the facts.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person my age that feels this way.

So what is journalism to do?  I believe that it can certainly recover.  The thing is, and this of course is subjective, mainstream journalism is boring.  I understand the need for professionalism, but the majority of mainstream journalism lacks some sort of “chutzpah”.  Sure journalists need to keep ethics involved in their work, but 9 times out of 10 I don’t read the news because it’s stuff I just don’t care about.  Obviously with watchdog reporting there’s a certain presentation needed to report on the facts and bring light to the public and this doesn’t allow for very much wiggle room.  However watchdog reporting only covers a portion of the broad spectrum of journalism, and it is in these other categories that journalism needs a swift over hall.  One of the few publications I follow vehemently is Vice Magazine, a source some might consider being on the outer fringes of the journalism world.  While they do post some articles that are outrageous for the sake of being outrageous (“We Had A Convo Date With Kreayshawn and a Taxidermied Bear”), a good majority of the news they report on is interesting and presented in an interesting manner, and show that their reporters aren’t afraid to dig down into the muck for a story, such as “Chicago Interrupted” where reporters follow around two people involved in Chicago CeaseFire, “a violence prevention organization that mediates potentially violent situations.”  Maybe because it’s a fringe publication that the articles they publish are a little fringe, but they’re far more interesting than anything I tend to read in mainstream publications.

I’m not saying a reporter for the New York Times needs to follow around members of an organization that breaks up street fights, but there’s a gritty reality missing from most journalistic efforts today in order to make people feel safe and happy with stories that avoid the harsh truths of the world we live in, and not just on a governmental scale either (even in that regard, gone are the Woodward and Bernstein’s in favor of journalists who merely present information with no drive to get to the bottom of things or call a spade a spade).  Obviously our generation needs more to stay focused on an article.  Maybe the solution is for journalists to get a little more…Gonzo.

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