What even is it?• Traditional journalism aims to inform readers through unbiased facts.• New journalism aimed to present readers a larger “interpretive truth”.• Creative, evocative and deeply descriptive.• While literary journalism had been around for some time, New Journalism was seen as an evolution of this reporting.
Four Main Literary Devices:• Third-person point of view• Scene-by-scene narrative• Extensive dialogue• Recording of status-life symbols
“Id rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.” Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test • Founding-Father of New Journalism • Best known works include The Electric Kool- Aid Acid Test, The Black Panther Party and The Right Stuff. • Known for his bad-ass pimpin’ style; white suits, hats, a cane.
“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. Thats not true with non-fiction.” Tom Wolfe “There goes (VAROOM! VAROOM!) that Kandy Kolored (THPHHHHHH!) tangerine-flake streamline baby (RAHGHHHH!) around the bend (BRUMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMM).”
“I think all novels should be journalism to start,and if you can ascend from that plateau to some marvelous altitude, terrific.” Tom Wolfe • Emerged as New Journalisms major spokesperson and theorist. • The New Journalism became the quintessential guide to the movement.
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanityto anyone, but theyve always worked for me.” Hunter S. Thompson • One of the most prolific writers of the movement. • Best-known works include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72, and Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
“If youre going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else youre going to be locked up.” Hunter S Thompson • Fore-father of Gonzo Journalism. • Sub-genre which favoured flair over fact. • Erratic, manic style of writing. • The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved first example of Gonzo.
“But Im not a saint yet. Im an alcoholic. Im a drug addict. Im homosexual. Im a genius.” Truman Capote• In Cold Blood, example of early New Journalism.• Forged a new, evocative, multi-layered style of crime reporting.• Was highly controversial, garnered much criticism for sensationalism.
“Writers are always selling somebody out.” Joan Didion• One of the most prominent women in New Journalism.• Slouching Towards Bethlehem was a personal exploration of American culture in the 1960s.• Wrote with husband John Gregory Dunne.
“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing” Norman Mailer• A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.• First came to prominence for controversial essay White Negros.• Broke new ground with award-winning Armies of the Night.
The Best of the Rest…• Gay Talese whose features for Esquire and The New Yorker helped to shape modern literary journalism.• Michael Herr’s book Dispatches is widely credited as the most accurate, articulate and honest on the Vietnam war.
The Best of the Rest…• Nicholas Tomalin, a distinctive outlandish, yet deadpan style. His most famous piece, The General Goes Zapping Charlie Cong.• “The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability.”
Criticism• Many criticised the lack of transparency in the work and the integrity of the reporters writing it.• There is also a school of thought against Wolfe’s claim that New Journalism was in fact new at all.
Criticism• Lester Markel: "factual fictionists" performing as sociologists and psychoanalysts rather than as journalists.• Dwight McDonald: “A bastard form, having it both ways, exploiting the factual authority of journalism and the atmospheric license of fiction.”
When New Journalism got Old• As topics like drugs, rock • The immediacy of music, war, civil rights, television and then the social discontent lost internet, left in-depth relevance so too did New reporting and research Journalism. somewhat redundant.• Readerships dwindled and ad space became a commodity.
I ♥ NJ• I think any factual discrepancies are counteracted by how evocative the imagery is, how rich the language is and how ballsy the writers are.• War correspondents of the New Journalism era played a huge role in shaping public opinion, their influence is still evident today.
If you’d rather watch the movie than read the book…
…But should you care to read further• The New Journalism by Tom Wolfe is the best starting point.• Michael Shapiro’s The Curse of Tom Wolfe and Chris Harvey’s Tom Wolfe’s Revenge.• Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.• Esquire and Rolling Stone have great archives online.• Check out Ralph Steadman’s Gonzo Art.