Faculty members Richardson, Green: Journalism Took on New Slant in Mid-1960s

Monday, June 12, 2017

SF STATE NEWS -- SF State Humanities Lecturer Peter Richardson’s book, “A Bomb in Every Issue,” chronicles Ramparts magazine, which began as a Catholic quarterly in 1962. By 1967 the publication was breaking major stories on Vietnam, the CIA and the Black Panthers. It took leftist politics and merged it with celebrity culture. It ran stories the mainstream media wouldn’t touch and then publicized it a way that the mainstream media couldn’t ignore, Richardson said. The magazine eventually folded in 1975, but former employees went on to found Rolling Stone and Mother Jones magazines — which still carry that muckraking and independent spirit.

Professor of English Language and Literature Geoffrey Green said “new journalism” is often associated with the Summer of Love even though it began much earlier with non-Summer of Love subject matter. “The new journalism was a sense that you could cover a story but do so with an artistic individuality that transformed it into a literary statement,” he said.

All nonfiction inherently has that subjectivity, Green said. “Every biography, if it’s any good, the biographer has formed a kind of shape or contour that gives it life,” he said. Without a particular perspective it would be seen as a shapeless chronology and if it’s only slant then it becomes a polemic, he added.