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How Hunter S. Thompson Looked for a Job

There was never a dull moment with Hunter S. Thompson.  He wrote this cover letter in 1958.  Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times shared it today with his Facebook fans and remarked that it was the best job application letter he ever read.  It also appeared in the Fear and Loathing Letters Vol. 1.  We miss Hunter S. Thompson in Colorado.  When he died it kind of took the high out of our high country.  Don’t think his chutzpah led to a job with The Sun though.

Vancouver Sun

TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN

October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City

Sir,

I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.

If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

If not, good luck anyway.

Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson

 
For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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Journalism 101

Are you a graduate looking for a career in the glamorous world of journalism? Ready to jump right in and make a difference? I’m sure I sounded this naive about 30 years ago.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

 


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Dan Rather on Journalism

Dan Rather, former anchor of CBS News and now of HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports, with an interesting point of view on what’s ailing journalism today and how to fix it.  Interested in your thoughts on this and whether you think democracy is at risk. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/07/AR2009080703183.html


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5000

It’s not the Huffington Post but I’m still amazed that there have been 5000 hits to this blog since it kicked off in May 2008.  I remember how giddy I was when I got my first comment and again when there were 2000 hits on the 20th of October.  Read an article by Brian Stelter in the education supplement of the New York Times this past Sunday.  It was about how journalism schools are working to adapt to the new media.  The author was saying how blogs are now a necessary part of journalism and how it is important to “invent your own jobs.”  This has been a great experiment for me and I’m pleased that I have found a small audience that has given me a vehicle for my voice and another venue for storytelling.  It’s very gratifying to watch the blog stats and see my viewers going up every month.  Thanks to all for reading my blog.  Stay tuned for more.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Points from Poynter

As a young television producer working at KRON TV in San Francisco I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong seminar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was one of the first times I was able to explore my craft with other like minded professionals and learn from some of the best in the business.  Among them was Rod Prince, one of the brilliant producers of NBC Network News who I eventually had the privilege to work with.  That week fired me up like no other and the skills I developed remain with me to this day.  The Poynter Institute is an amazing place to grow.  With the economy in a meltdown it is getting more difficult for aspiring journalists to get a first break.  A mom on the lacrosse field told me her soon to be college graduate was very discouraged by the prospects and another would be broadcaster decided to abandon television news altogether for a career in public relations.  Here is an article by the Poynter Institute’s Jill Geisler on why people should still hire journalists.  It speaks to the virtues and the myriad of abilities of those who report the news.   

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=34&aid=160112

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Twitter to the Chief

President Barack Obama & Vice-President Joe Biden

President Barack Obama & Vice-President Joe Biden

President Obama came to Denver today to sign the economic stimulus bill.  He chose the Mile High City because it is on the cutting edge of green technologies he believes will take America into the future.  I attended because I am producing a story on the impact of the economy on public hospitals.  Stimulus dollars are going to provide relief for health care too.  The story is slated to air on HDNet’s World Report (http://hd.net) on March 24.  I was in the crowd as a producer of a documentary length story for television, as a photographer, a blogger and for the first time, a twitterer. 

It was a powerful convergence of journalism and social networking.  I was doing what journalists do, taking down facts and quotes for my larger story, but I was also taking photos for my blog and twittering in between.  Within seconds of sending out tweets I had people texting me to tell me they were following my posts.  When I returned home I saw that my blog had three times as many hits as usual.  A month from now a 30 minute story about how the economic crisis is driving public hospitals into insolvency will air but today I broadcasted 140 word stories (@vickycollins)  and was excited to discover that there was an audience for those too.

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com