New Journalism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

New Journalism was a style of 1960s and 1970s news writing and journalism which used literary techniques deemed unconventional at the time. The term was codified with its current meaning by Tom Wolfe in a 1973 collection of journalism articles he published as The New Journalism, which included works by himself, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Robert Christgau, and others.

Articles in the New Journalism style tended not to be found in newspapers, but rather in magazines such as The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, Esquire Magazine, CoEvolution Quarterly, and for a short while in the early 1970s, Scanlan's Monthly.


[edit] Characteristics

Wolfe identified the four main devices New Journalists borrowed from literary fiction:[1]

  • Telling the story using scenes rather than historical narrative as much as possible
  • Dialogue in full (Conversational speech rather than quotations and statements)
  • Third-person point-of-view (present every scene through the eyes of a particular character)
  • Recording everyday details such as behavior, possessions, friends and family (which indicate the "status life" of the character)

Despite these elements, New Journalism is not fiction. It maintains elements of reporting including strict adherence to factual accuracy and the writer being the primary source. To get "inside the head" of a character, the journalist asks the subject what they were thinking or how they felt.

[edit] History

Wolfe unwittingly published his first New Journalism-style article in 1963 after having trouble writing an assignment about hot rod culture and sending his editor a letter containing his thoughts on the article. The editor chose simply to remove the salutation from Wolfe's letter and print it as received. Wolfe's letter had the original title There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm).... The title was later contracted to The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and became the title of Wolfe's first book of collected essays, published in 1965. Wolfe once proclaimed that New Journalism "would wipe out the novel as literature's main event."[2]

Gay Talese at the Strand Bookstore in New York City

Journalists recognized as using the style include Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Darrell Bob Houston, Truman Capote, P. J. O'Rourke, George Plimpton, Terry Southern, Richard Ben Cramer and Gay Talese. Hunter S. Thompson was a major practitioner of new journalism and gonzo journalism, his own particular style. Thompson's first book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, is a more conventional piece, and shows the beginnings of a more memoir-based approach to reportage. Gay Talese's 1966 article for Esquire, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was an influential piece of new journalism that gave a detailed portrait of Frank Sinatra without ever interviewing him.

New journalism writers brought new approaches to areas already covered by the mainstream press. The psychedelic movement was something that many of the writers of the period covered, such as in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The Vietnam War was another common topic, as was the political turmoil on the homefront. Terry Southern's Grooving in Chi documented the 1968 Chicago National Democratic Convention for Esquire Magazine in new journalism manner. New journalism's techniques were also applied to less obvious subjects, such as financial markets (by George Goodman under the pseudonym Adam Smith, in essays originally published in New York Magazine and later collected in a book called The Money Game.)

Some authors of conventional fiction switched to writing in the style of new journalism, such as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, and Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night. However, neither author ever agreed to their style's comparison to Wolfe's school of narration, nor did many others who have been retrospectively promoted as being members and therein associated. Much to the contrary, many of these writers would deny that their work was generically relevant to other new journalists at the time. This may be because, during such a politically torn period, these authors were politically across the spectrum, from the New Left to the Old Right.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ Beuttler, Bill. "Whatever Happened to the New Journalism?". Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 
  2. ^ Wolfe, Tom (1987-12-18). "The bonfire of the vanities". National Review. Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Fact & Fiction, John Hollowell
  • New Journalism, Tom Wolfe, ISBN 0-06-047183-2
  • The New Journalism, Michael L Johnson
  • The New Journal, Yale University. Publication since 1967, publishing works of New Journalism.

[edit] External links

Personal tools