So here’s an honest confession:
The 2012 Mayan Calendar and its prophetic, apocalyptic assumptions didn’t necessarily set off an alarm or raise a red flag for me.
Texas summers bring their own intensity – so comparatively, a few ancient hellfire and brimstone showers sound almost charming.
Alas, now past the halfway mark of 2012, an election looms four short months away, economic forecasts offer damper-still sentiment across the board, and at this point Facebook’s stock values might as well buy a rocket if they ever hope to soar past their slightly scary baseline evaluations.
Apparently, Prince didn’t intend to party like it’s 1999…beyond 1999.
To survive these turbulent times, it’s paramount to review the bad news first.
Survival Step No. 2:
As communications practitioners, it’s also vital that we go a little gonzo every now and then – journalistically, socially, artistically, etc.
Plus, my friend’s friend’s Somali pirate cousin actually knows a real life “Captain Morgan” – so fear not, because he’ll bring rum aplenty.
Today, students aspiring to mirror Hunter S. Thompson’s reporting style – termed “gonzo” long ago by (literal) governing literary authorities – enjoy countless online social media platforms that all assist their noble efforts to discuss, analyze and interpret the truths narrating modern 21st century context.
The film captures a vice-ridden storyline about how a quintessential 1950s U.S. journalist (Depp now, and, before this movie, Thompson, himself) moves abroad to cover international assignments (primarily in Puerto Rico), and – like all contemplative reporters – battles the ability to report injustice against the more acceptable paradise allusion.
So the question lingers…how should a journalist proceed?
Both then and now.
Well, Thompson’s answer stands depressing:
Drinking to delusion, wild times with women, then suicide.
That’s wasting talent far too soon – but can one necessarily blame the guy?
The truth hurts.
Hopefully, those presently moving toward an earnest journalistic discipline will watch this delightful, biographic flick, opt for the far more professional road devoid of sin, and pragmatically note a few basic lessons – compliments of Thompson’s methodology – which will then hopefully help create not only strong, but also deeply thoughtful writing.
Lesson 1: Carry a Camera
Carrying your cell phone, tablet, or any other recording device will give any writing that “in-the-moment” edge when it’s paired nicely with strong audio/visual elements that you’ve captured live.
Lesson 2: Don’t Resist The Rewrite
It’s an instinctive editorial request – as everyone knows – but think about how Round 2 might give you time to gather more intelligence, find a better image, secure a stronger quote, etc.
Lesson 3: Work The Field
And sniff out the real facts. It’s paramount to take yourself into the trenches – even if it means attending Carnival. Nothing ever replaces good due diligence and thoughtful digging.
Lesson 4: Connections Count As Currency
OK. So in the movie, no one actually “likes” Aaron Eckhart’s character. But he did bail out J. Depp – so just keep in mind that a local source list helps immensely.
Lesson 5: Failure Fuels The Fire
Remember that even the best attempts to write well – and truthfully – sometimes fail and fall short; these times also remind us that good writing always requires that never-yielding commitment.
So if we all go a little gonzo at some point – well, what’s the worst thing that might result?
I’ll take that risk any day.