Editing Hunter S. Thompson

May 14, 2005

In this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, Robert Love muses on his 23 year ride as editor for many of Hunter Thompson’s articles, in “A Technical Guide for Editing Gonzo

Love edited about a dozen of HST’s articles over that span, and slowly came to understand the nature of the process itself. In this article, he goes back over his notes and recounts some of his more interesting experiences.

My intention is to take you through the editing process for gonzo journalism as I knew it — inside the sausage factory. Each piece had its own considerations and contortions, but there were common elements, which in the years since, I have identified and classified.

Did I mention it was fun? Asked for a touch more detail in this sentence from the Elko piece “For many hours I tossed and turned . . . ,” he came back with “like a crack baby in a cold hallway.” Hunter was close to a genius at headlines and subheads for his pieces. We all thought we were pretty good at this task, but in the end we deferred to him. He fussed mightily over those subheads and all display type, and agonized over design decisions that were out of his hands, since Rolling Stone had morphed into a professional, compartmentalized operation. If he hated the way the design was going, or hated Ralph Steadman’s early sketches, he noisily threatened to quit the team, to pull his piece. This he did on several occasions, but I soon learned it was just a necessary step in the process.

What a great read.

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One Response to “Editing Hunter S. Thompson”

  1. rimone on May 15th, 2005 1:58 am

    He was a friend and a hero to me. I never drank with him, nor did I share his drugs…

    thanks for this, Chuck.

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