Friday, February 25, 2005

Hunter Thompson

I have been trying to think of something to say after hearing about Hunter Thompson's suicide.
Today I was writing my weekly column and remembered something I used to read to high school kids in a journalism class at Franklin Academy in Malone, N.Y.

"It's always bad business to try to explain yourself on paper--at least not all at once--but when you work as a journalist and sign your name in black ink on white paper above everything you write, that is the business you're in, good or bad. Buy the ticket, take the ride . . .That is a thing you want to remember if you work in either journalism or politics . . . and there is no way to duck it. You will be flogged for being right and flogged for being wrong, and it hurts both ways--but it doesn't hurt as much when you're right."
I got it from the preface to his book, "Generation of Swine." It used to make me feel better to know that someone who seemed as bold and obnoxious as Thompson still felt bad when people flogged him.
It happens to journalists all the time and it makes this a very difficult profession. It's incredible how free people feel to berate you and call you names. Often, the writer doesn't give a lick about the issue he is writing about. It's a job. And we tend to keep writers away from topics in which they have an interest. Even so, we get accused of being biased or on the take or letting someone write for us, all the time.
It ain't easy, but it's fun.

1 comment:

Mariseo said...

'It ain't easy, but it's fun' ... yep, it has for me for nigh on 30 years, and still is, and I'm still learning, and, I hope, passing on what I learn.