Tag Archives: Hunter Thompson

Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, part 1

Part one of a two-part series.

From Cronkite to Couric: the Kingdom of Signal is swallowed by the Empire of Noise

The recent death of Walter Cronkite spurred the predictable outpouring of tributes, each reverencing in its own way a man who was the face and voice of journalism in America for a generation or more. The irony of all these accolades is that we live in an age where “broadcast journalist” is such a cruel oxymoron, and we seem to speeding headlong into an era where the word “journalist” itself threatens to become a freestanding joke. Why, against this backdrop, would so many people who are so involved in the daily repudiation of everything that Cronkite stood for make such a show memorializing the standard by which they so abjectly fail?

As I read what people had to say about Cronkite, I realized that something I studied and wrote about over a decade ago helps explain why our contemporary media has gone so deeply, tragically wrong. Continue reading Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, part 1

America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.

Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.

Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.

Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Continue reading America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

The stimulus bill, Iraq and “fiscal responsibility”

Obama was in town yesterday to sign his stimulus bill. This victory, the first great moment of the Obama administration, was a hard-fought one earned in the face of fierce opposition from fiscally responsible Congressional Republicans. These staunch guardians of the American purse strings have proven, time and again, their willingness to combat wastefulness and ill-advised spending by…

Wait a second. Back up. Continue reading The stimulus bill, Iraq and “fiscal responsibility”

George Will can’t stop lying!

I now know why Elvis shot that TV set.

If you missed it, Stephen Colbert’s special guest last night was conservative pundit George Will. I almost typed “addle-headed pathological liar George Will,” but didn’t because I think a cursory look at what he actually said will make that clear enough.

Show, don’t tell, as I always instruct my writing students.

So let’s start by watching the segment.

WARNING: people with above-average intelligence who have eaten a greasy meal in the last couple of hours should grab a barf bag before clicking play. Continue reading George Will can’t stop lying!

CU, Max Karson, JonBenét Ramsey and a sad case of catfight journalism: Westword ought to be ashamed

The header on the story reads this way: CU’s Campus Press Fights for Independence.

The subhead is equally on-point: A contentious faculty meeting points to independence for CU-Boulder’s student newspaper — but at what cost?

But at that point the journalism train jumps the tracks, because the first couple grafs eschew any consideration of the alleged story itself in favor of a gratuitous drive-by snarking from reporter Michael Roberts.

University of Colorado at Boulder journalism professor Michael Tracey has never previously suffered from camera shyness. Continue reading CU, Max Karson, JonBenét Ramsey and a sad case of catfight journalism: Westword ought to be ashamed

“One last fiery hurrah”: LIFE’s final issue

Final part in a series.

How appropriate that a publication whose launch was dominated by photography of the technological wonder of the day should end its run with an equally impressive tribute to mankind’s latest technological accomplishment. As noted earlier, LIFE’s final issue was released a scant three weeks after Apollo 17, NASA’s last trip to the moon, and in the magazine’s concluding essays it found a fitting kinship with that mission.

Both LIFE and the Apollo program remained physically strong to the last – many regard Apollo 17 as the most successful of all the moon landings (12/29/72), and while LIFE was awash in red ink, its failures arguably related more to mismanagement than to substantive textual issues (in 1969 the magazine had reached an all-time circulation high of 8.5 million) (van Zuilen). Both were, in the end, overcome by financial difficulties and a lack of institutional will to carry on. Continue reading “One last fiery hurrah”: LIFE’s final issue

Happy Birthday, Hunter…

[UPDATE] Hunter’s widow, Anita, has a nice post on Hunter’s birthday at Owl Farm Blog.

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You may have noticed that Hunter Thompson is back on the masthead. Today would have been The Doctor’s 70th birthday (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005), and we thought it appropriate to honor the memory of a journalist who was an incredible influence on a number of our writers.

I originally wrote the piece below when he died, and since I think it addresses a number of issues that are as important today as they ever were, I’ve chosen to offer it up for reflection.

Happy Birthday, Hunter, wherever you are…
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HST: a champion for social justice cashes his check

– I heard the news today, oh boy…

(February 22, 2005) – One of the brightest lights in the American firmament blinked out Sunday. Continue reading Happy Birthday, Hunter…