The Rum Diary Question #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

by Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Rum Diary Question #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 11, 2010 10:10 am

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From Hunter's correspondence with William Kennedy (see Tidbit #21)



At the moment I am unemployed, and will continue to be until I locate a worthwhile job. Having been a sportswriter, sports editor, editorial trainee and reporter – in that order – I have given up on American journalism. The decline of the American press has long been obvious, and my time is too valuable to waste in an effort to supply the ‘man in the street” with his daily quota of clichés, gossip and erotic tripe. There is another concept of journalism, which you may or may not be familiar with. It’s engraved on a bronze plaque on the southeast corner of the Times Tower in New York City.

The plaque Hunter refers to:

An institution that should always fight for progress and
Reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight
Demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party,
Always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers,
Never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain
Devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with
Merely printing news, always be drastically independent,
Never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory
Plutocracy or predatory poverty.

~Joseph Pulitzer, May 10, 1883, in an editorial upon becoming publisher of the “New York World’ (reproduced on a bronze plaque on the Times Tower, New York City.)


Why do you think Hunter quoted this plaque? How do you interpret the quotation by Joseph Pulitzer as it relates Hunter’s Gonzo journalism?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue May 11, 2010 4:36 pm

I may not be learned enough of all of Hunter's writings to give a reply to this question but in my opinion Hunter wanted to write as he saw the world - raw and not slanted. At times the news - papers, TV, etc. are written influenced by the establishment the journalists work for. Maybe they have to do this to keep their jobs - I don't think Hunter ever gave in to this concept. I feel that Hunter agreed strongly with the quote on the Plaque dedicated to Joseph Pulitzer.

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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby nebraska » Tue May 11, 2010 6:01 pm

In my English class we are reading about evaluations such as critical reviews. A point was made that even which movies are reviewed or which local performances get a review, are influenced by advertising dollars. And the lack of reviews may contribute to a performance not being noticed or appreciated by the public.

It is unfortunate, but I think almost all news media is influenced by advertising dollars, so we get what will sell or draw viewers more so than truly balanced news reports. Plus, in my opinion, the cheerful banter between the reporters fills a good deal of report time with fluff meant to entertain rather than inform.

Hunter wasn't into bull..........well, not on a professional level anyway. :lol: I think he took his writing very seriously, and even if it was not objective reporting, it was honest as he saw things.

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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby Liz » Tue May 11, 2010 11:20 pm

Nebraska, unfortunately as we get further and further away from the print media subscriptions and the move to all things Internet, that is the only way that the news media stays in business. I’m not talking about TV here because that’s different. I’m talking about newspapers and technical magazines that have moved from print media to online.

As far as the Pulitzer quote, I think Hunter was the epitome of that, even if people refer to his journalism as Gonzo. From what I have learned about Hunter in the last 6 years, it seems to me that he wished to report things accurately and to especially report injustices. And I know that Gonzo journalism has been defined as reporting the news subjectively. But maybe that’s because those in control would want it reported objectively in favor of their viewpoint :eyebrow: .

I think it is rather telling that he would choose that plaque & quote. It means to me that he was a journalist who has always wished to speak the truth. And that comes through in his telling of Kemp's experience on Vieques.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby gemini » Wed May 12, 2010 12:58 am

I agree with what you say about Hunter wanting to put the facts out there no matter whose toes he stepped on. Kemp, however spent his time on the island selling out those interest and calling himself a suckface for just that. He was down on himself enough towards the end that I like to think he saw the error of his ways. Hunter was telling the story of how young winters do fall into the system even though they set out to change the world.

I am not really approving of all the things Hunter did in his life but as a journalist he was my hero. Hunter could have written that plaque himself.

Nebraska makes an excellent point about advertising and television news even though you are looking for comment on the written news. Unfortunately local papers seem to buy into whatever local officials are running their districts. The news is obviously slanted because readers pick the paper that more conforms to their views when they choose which to read. They not only like their news slanted but slanted to their own opinions. In some ways I think the Internet has replaced newspapers because there was less censorship but those days seem to be going fast.
We could really use a good gonzo journalist these days.
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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby Buster » Wed May 12, 2010 9:50 am

To me, the quotation on the plaque says that institutions (read "journalists") should take sides on issues; they should, in essence, be part of the news, trying to influence the outcome of events.
Gonzo journalism is just that - immersing yourself in the story you're reporting.
I can see why the quote was close to Hunter's heart, especially since he believed it was possible to effect change through the written word (as well as with cattle prods ;-) )

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Re: The Rum Diary Tidbit #23 ~ Pulitzer Quote

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 12, 2010 1:07 pm

I agree the media these days is generally slanted - in which direction depends on your point of view. I believe what Pulitzer says is should be the norm, I think Hunter did too. There have been those journalists that aspire to these goals but so much of the news now is comprised of the "talking heads" that have the time can't even read their teleprompters correctly much less investigate anything independently. I think society needs the press to report honestly and without regard to political or commercial consequence.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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