Gonzo Journalism Defined (with poem)

Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that embodies the page without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative.

The word “gonzo” first came into its own in 1970 to describe an article by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style, making it his own. The term also applies to other subjective artistic endeavors—written, spoken, and audio.

Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy through the reporting of first-person experiences and emotions, as compared to traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on facts or quotations, attributed and/or verified by third parties.

Gonzo journalism disregards the strictly edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more personal approach; the personality of a story is a multi-sensory expression, unequivocally as important as the event the piece sets out to feature.

Use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common and celebrated.

Among the forefathers of the aforementioned new journalism movement, Thompson said in the February 15, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone, “If I’d written the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people—including me—would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”

Long live Gonzo Journalism.



Under the scree of a mescaline-yellow sky

wheels roll along the red highway

crying with joy

and coyote calls.

High and low

low down high

Two men still laugh in the dust-heavy air

white top folded down

eyes lolling their stems

popping off and squawk

in the metronome flash-out short radio blare.

Down low

up high

life still high

Leather bodies fading in the noonday sun

fat on the dole to horn-rimmed sorrows

twisting mouth candy poplorica smile

black spot in the distance

spinning like the barrel of a six gun.

Life on high

life down low

still life still

One man coughs up a little tiny slice

of his morning keylime pie

choking back lullaby-memoirs as muddled as lime

singing that song that hum that same old hum -ding ring

telephone shock-faced scion.

High life

low life

still life

Under the blue collar of another town

fingernail scratching inner ear glum

the sellout flux horn-busted button-hole smut

shit scrawling dynamo

takes in the dawn

wilderness wild wide

jack-a-daw gape-dawn.

Still life

low life

high life

Whenever the typer stops

pushing in long enough

thin man and big man

stoke up and toke up the signal fire


all night

whiskey daydream a go-go.

Low life

high life

still life

twice burned in the desert

when the smoke circle scrum

banging marathon drum

lights it up like a match

by gone by the wayside silence

of the lamb chop moon.