The Weird Turn Pro—COVID 19 Distance Learning Assignment for Investigative Journalism at Madison College

The Founder of Gonzo Journalism

One cannot put into words to describe Hunter S. Thompson other than “Gonzo Journalist.” Thompson was a stuntman who went out of his way to ride with the Hell’s Angels on a cruising for a bruising that eventually turned ugly. As a rebellious youth growing up in Appleton, Wis. in the ‘90s, I followed Thompson’s writing style whose genre piqued the interest of weirdos like me. Gonzo Journalism was first introduced through my History teacher who hated the concept that defied all the laws of journalism objectivity.

He called us all “Jag bag Rhodes Scholars” for liking him. Thompson was my form of literary escape and rebellious rebuttal to my teacher’s low appraisal of me. “Fear and Loathing” became my montage attending his class where I purposely placed Thompson’s books on my desk for my teacher to see. I lived each day by one of Thompson’s quotes that propelled me to barely pass his class. My history teacher told me I would never make it to college. Hunter S. Thompson’s writing style fed me who is responsible for my rebellious approaches to journalism today.

“When the going gets weird—the weird turn pro.”-Hunter S. Thompson

Thompson profile photo

Biographical Source: and Google search.

The Man Behind the Scenes

Name: Hunter Stockton Thompson
Place of Birth: Springfield, Kentucky
Born: July 18, 1937
Died: February 20, 2005
Education: Columbia University, Florida State University, Columbia University of General Studies, Louisville Male High School.

Hunter S. Thompson Defies the Laws of Journalism

My love for Thompson starts with his going above the status quo to write feature stories from the first-person cockpit. Journalist editors scold writers from inserting themselves in their reporting. Thompson ignores the editor and does it anyway. Gonzo Journalism is frowned upon at the Clarion. I have been scolded on many occasions for taking the gonzo approach. My favorite character feature about Hunter S. Thompson was his beat down he took with the Hell’s Angels who reported his life behind the scenes. My favorite gonzo movies are “Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).” Bill Murray and Johnny Depp take on the role of animating the life of the Gonzo Journalist, who feature Thompson’s signature cigarette filter chewing memoirs—his best attribute. Thompson served in the Air Force as a sports editor for an on-base newspaper starting in 1956 until he was discharged in 1957. Hunter S. Thompson followed his journalism career long after.

Going Gonzo with the Hell’s Angels

The best way to describe Gonzo Journalism would be to examine Hunter S. Thompson through introspection to delve into the mind of a madman who documented his ride-along with the Hell’s Angels. Introspection seeks to form observations regarding the writer’s state of mind leading them into their journalism career. Thompson was a rebel. By disregarding journalism expectations of objectivity, his writings became outlawed in the eyes of editors. But the reader kept wanting more and more. Gonzo Journalism investigated the Hell’s Angels after befriending the organization who turned on Thompson and beat the life out of him. The introspection of Thompson’s “Hell’s Angels (1966)” prospect editorial, dialogued a state of mind of a writer, who lived beyond the human capacity, to go above and beyond the status quo, to entertain ideas with readers (Introspection examination:


Journalism Sample: Fear and Loathing in America

“The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time. Make no mistake about it. We are at war now—with somebody—and we will stay At War with that mysterious enemy for the rest of our lives.”