Monday, October 25, 2010

Blog 15: Undercover journalism

Of all the articles we read for this week, the "Deception/Hidden Cameras Checklist" is the most effective at describing when and how things have gone wrong or right.  I think it is through this scope that the rest of the cases must be measured.  Bly's experiment exposed extreme indecency being performed on individuals that were unable to defend themselves or fight back (to any effect).  She satisfies the most important part of the requirement for this type of journalism, "must prevent profound harm to individuals."  In uncovering the ethics in the asylum, Bly got a great story but more importantly, she saved the people from their situations.  There was also no other way to prove this kind of thing was happening except through first-hand-experience.  She was willing to admit her methods for getting the story and had evidence to back up her allegations and pleas for fixing the current system.

Pam Zekman also falls into this category.  As long as she didn't come into owning a bar illegally and never misrepresented who she was, I believe that she carried out her mission effectively.  She did her job and while offering the money, it is the law enforcement's job to make sure they 1) don't take that money and 2) supervise her to do her job effectively.  Unfortunately for them, they took the money so she could continue to run a sub-par bar.  The only way to really prove this sort of thing is to run through first hand, just as Bly did.

The Food Lion scandal is another story.  I am bothered because they lied to management and were not honest about previous work experience.  This reminds me of Conover's stint at Sing-Sing, but Conover completed the training and didn't have to lie about previous work experience to get the job.  The Food Lion debate also causes me to question why the workers wanted to go undercover at that grocery store.  Had people complained about being sick from their food?  If that was the case, I feel that these complaints would have surfaced and consumers would have been able to decide for themselves about the quality of the food.  If no one else had complained then I don't think that this investigation met the 'appropriate' standards on several points, including "When the harm prevented by the information revealed through deception outweighs any harm caused by the act of deception."

As for the lobbying scandal and the phone line issues, I believe both of these could have been achieved in different ways.  I also don't believe that these news organizations used "excellence, through outstanding craftsmanship as well as the commitment of time."  When confronted with the ethical implications of their arguments, these investigative reporters became defensive and pointed out that if the perpetrators were doing things illegally, they should be allowed to uncover them illegally, which happens to fall under the 'criteria that do not justify deception.'  

Unfortunately, there is no way to say that things definitely are or definitely are not ethical or appropriate. I have trouble drawing concise lines to delineate what should and should not be allowed.  But I do believe that if a reporter is undercover and confronted with the truth (if they are found out), they should reveal their identity UNLESS their lives are in danger.  If their cover is blown, they should take the hit and walk.  If they are in danger of losing their lives, they should cease investigative reporting but not let their cover down.  Anything beyond this guideline really becomes subjective.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog 14: Gay Talese, DiMaggio

Gay Talese seems to want to show the private life of DiMaggio; he wants to describe his habits, his person, his fears, his dislikes and his likes, among other things.  This is shown best by the fact that Talese was unsuccessful in getting an in=depth interview with DiMaggio.  DiMaggio was a very public figure that resented the spotlight, which typically made him all the more mysterious.  This mystique was aided by his short marriage to Marilyn Monroe, who coveted the spotlight.  Talese seems to be chasing this allusive American hero, hoping to give more insight into his life and habits, and in a way, he is successful.  At the same time, DiMaggio never faces Talese squarely to answer any questions and adds to his shy nature.

The plot can be a bit confusing if the reader is not careful.  Talese uses a series of 'present' actions as well as flashbacks to show his story.  The 'season' Talese refers to can be seen as a baseball season (for a team and sport that he no longer plays) or as a season in his life- he wants privacy, to be left alone, and is most often noted as brooding and quiet.  Which, ironically, seems to be the way that he lived his entire life.  For the majority of the article, Talese writes about a specific day in DiMaggio's life, which is an ordinary day.  He intersperses flash backs then returns to that day.  The last page or two of the article glosses over a 30 day period where DiMaggio goes to camp with the Yankees.

Dialogue is heavily relied on for this article, yet indirectly.  There is no discourse between the author and the baseball legend.  All insight through conversation is gleaned through that 'fly-on-the-wall' reporting style.  Direct quotes from DiMaggio are short and few, which ultimately aid his reputation as a reticent talker.  When he does talk, it's often about sports, (not much about his baseball), or short quips tat respond to questions without really answering them (see the exchange on p. 157 with man with 'wine on his breath').  Comments from friends, acquaintances and outside sources give a lot of characterization for DiMaggio.  Interestingly, though, I was struck by the amount of his direct quotes that were about pretty women.

Talese's scene by scene construction is weakened by his narrative style, but his status details are strong.  I felt that he did a good job of detailing places and people without telling his audience what to think or how to feel.  Mentioning that DiMaggio "slept crossways on three seats" shows readers that he is a tall man, and the way "flabby men in he locker rooms of golf clubs sometimes steal peeks at him when he steps out of the shower, observing the tight muscles across his chest..." show readers that DiMaggio has retained the young man's baseball figure (although Talese does feel compelled to spell this out for this audience a little later in the passage).

Talese absolutely leaves the writer out of the picture.  He writes from an immersed standpoint and fly on the wall, a position relegated to him by DiMaggio himself by not granting an interview.  This makes the 'exploration of inner experience' extremely difficult.

Gay Talese is a nonfiction writer (because he didn't want to change the names) and has written an assortment of articles and books.  He has reported for the New York Times, Esquire (where this particular article was published), The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and others.  He has been credited by Tom Wolfe as the inventor of "New Journalism."  He has been married for 50 years to Nan Talese, who works with a publishing company.  After witnessing his parents' "claustrophobic" marriage, he is happy that they are able to function independently of each other, especially when he is away writing. ; also articles/interview available.

Talese believes that patience and curiosity are most valuable to a journalist; he has both.  Although he has been writing for 55 years, he has only written "five long books, two short ones, and four collections."  His process of note-taking, writing, editing and typing are extremely tedious.  Talese also needed patience and curiosity to complete the piece about DiMaggio.  If he employed the same tactics as he did for his famous article about Sinatra, Talese followed DiMaggio around, gleaning everything he could from people that he passed and spoke to as well as friends and family members.  If DiMaggio had a conversation with someone, Talese may have approached them later to find out the specifics of the conversation and possibly gotten their information for more quotes and source info later.

Question: Talese's method of following DiMaggio around reminds me of tabloid writers that stalk their subjects to see what they say or do, yet Talese seems much more refined than that.  What is it about his approach that makes him different, while what he does is basically the same?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blog 13: Journalistic Immersion

Jack London's People of the Abyss includes little of what I remember of The Call of the Wild in elementary school.  Stark weather and forest descriptions have been replaced by bleak city and people.  Instead of talking about wolves trying to survive the wilderness, London focuses on people trying to survive their surroundings.

Part of London's interest in this subject and motivation for writing this piece seems to be if he can accomplish it or not.  A large bit of writing in the beginning shows that he has trouble even finding the East End; when he is successful, he almost seems to take it as a sign that he should continue.  He is out to conquer other people's 'you-can't-find-it' mentality as well as prove to himself that this is entirely possible.  Once he actually finds the location of his choice, he takes the pains to transform himself into a local because London also wants to see how the East End inhabitants dwell and function.  But he seems unaccustomed to the slum conditions of that part of the city and the people and wants to see and experience what it takes to survive in the squalor.  His tone shows that while he has become a part of them, he is still a little awed at their manner of living.

The plot line in this short excerpt is 3/4 seeking and 1/4 finding and adjusting.  London details his search for the East End like a pirate searching for treasure; he has to ask, pay people off and hire a guide of sorts before he finally comes to the East End.  The search for the people is nearly more invigorating than actually finding them.  London almost seems smug about being able to hold his driver until he has discovered where he wants to be.  Then the last few paragraphs show London's realization that he has indeed found what he was looking for and through his transformation, has become a person of the abyss as well as dispensable.  Interestingly, London cannot seem to be a part of the East End and accepted by them until he has relinquished the things that tie him to his (relatively) upper class situation.  He feels like he could be in danger there until he becomes a slummer; when his transformation is made, he feels cheapened by the upper class and accepted by the East End.

London uses status details as well as concrete details most strongly from the list of elements.  He vividly describes the slums and how difficult it is to find them.  Page 86 is a great example of showing, not telling as he paints a picture of the streets and market place (nowhere in the streets...devoured on the spot).  He could not have told his readers better than his descriptions explain his surroundings.  His status details help paint the people (especially the way things change when he himself changes his clothes) and his descriptions paint the scenes.

Dialogue also is a strong suit in this excerpt.  London's exchanges with cab drivers and policemen show the incredulity of his observers.  This also becomes an example of showing rather than telling.  Instead of saying what they will, people "urge" or "order" or "demand" or "spluttered unintelligibly."  I wish I could come up with such attribution for my magazine and feature writing class.  E

ach conversation is lit with vernacular and descriptive attributions that prove people's skepticism of London's travels.

London's own exploration of how this makes him feel is portrayed powerfully in this piece.  He searches and searches to find these East End people and to become one of them, yet when he has accomplished this feat he becomes introspective and shows surprise that he no longer truly means anything to anyone around him because of the quality of his clothes and the way he appears.  He is invagorated about that because he has fulfilled his transformation but at the same time is saddened that life can become so inconsequential.

After glancing through London's biography, this work appears to be one of the few that was set in a city scape.  His most famous other works include animal subjects but mostly take place in jungles, wilderness, or on the sea.  People of the Abyss does adhere to his Darwinism tendencies.  London was the child of an unwed mother and grew up in the lower middle class.  He worked many 'hard labor' jobs that took him around the country, into the Yukon and across the sea and neglected his schoolwork and any writing until he was 19.  He became known as a socialist in his community and even ran for mayor on that ticket.  He was never successful in the political realm.

To write this book, London went and lived in the 'under world' of the East End for 7 weeks.  He wanted to see first-hand the experiences of the people:  "I was open to be convinced by the evidence of my eyes, rather than by the teachings of those who had not seen, or by the words of those who had seen and gone before." (  As the writings show, London became an East End inhabitant and learned what he could of the people and environment around him.

Question: I am bothered by the last few sentences in this selection: "I had become a part of it.  The vast and malodorous sea had welled up and over me, or I had slipped gently into it, and there was nothing fearsome about it-with the one exception of the stoker's singlet" (89).  London has thrown off every constraint and made it seem that he is indeed a slummer.  But yet he holds onto this money even though he is afraid.  Does this cheapen his immersion to anyone else?  Was it really necessary to hold onto this money 'just in case?'

Monday, October 11, 2010

Research Outline

 I. Introduction
A.Dr. Lloyd's feelings about movies-what good?
1.His personal favorite- Jane Austen
B.How much are students gaining from videos vs. reading the real thing?
C.Introduction of Weinstein's article- movies
D.Why this matters- introduce issue of gonzo writing and attempts to remake experiences in film

II.Lester Bangs
A.Role in gonzo
B.Effects he had on culture
1.Why he is remembered today
2.His general subject matter
C.Why he became the subject of a movie
III.Hunter S. Thompson
A.Role in gonzo
B.Effects he had on culture
1.Why he is remembered today
2.His general subject matter
C.Why his writing became the subject of a movie

IV.Movie renditions
A.Almost Famous
1.How truthful?
2.How embellished?
3.How Gonzo?
B.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
1.How truthful?
2.How embellished?
3.How Gonzo?

V.Why do we care?

(*-*) =still trying to decide if I want to put authors with their movies, or do authors, then movies (as shown)


Atton, Chris.  "Living in the Past'?: Value Discourses in Progressive Rock Fanzines."   Popular Music, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), pp. 29-46.  Web.
Atton's article will give a valuable frame of reference for Bangs' work.  Although Hunter did not cover the music scene, Bangs wrote for several critical music publications, and this article should provide a critique of those critiques.  Bangs' articles were published in Creem mostly, but he was also featured in Rolling Stone and a couple of other publications.  This will hopefully not lean too far into the music side and will give an unbiased review of Bangs' reviews. 

Bangs, Lester, ed. John Morthland.  Mainlines, blood feasts, and bad taste: a Lester Bangs reader.  Google books.  Web.
This book by Bangs will provide good background for his style and range of thinking in the same way that Thompson's books provide background.  I will use this as a reference for Bangs' frame of reference as a musician, critic and writer.

Carroll, E. Jean.  Hunter: The strange and savage life of Hunter S. Thompson.  Plume: New York, 1993. 
After reading only the first chapter of this book, I see that Carroll has attempted to write a biographical type of book about Thompson in gonzo style; her style is satirical and entertaining, not sparing information but fixating on what some may consider the rude or obscene.  Throughout the book, Carroll includes statements from friends and family members, giving the reader a better idea of Thompson, where he came from and how he developed.  Also, Carroll’s style will help to reinforce the gonzo tradition.

DeRogatis, Jim.  Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic.  Broadway Books, New York: 2000. 
This book provides background information about Bangs, his childhood, adolescent years and adulthood.  DeRogatis includes extensive notes and appendixes that will further aid my research by reassuring the thoroughness of his.  The book also includes a section of selected lyrics that will give insight into his writing as well.

Hirst, Dr. Martin.  “What is Gonzo? The etymology of an Urban Legend.”  School of Journalism and Communication Publications, Queensland, Australia: 2004.
This journal/publication explores the beginning of gonzo journalism and its frontrunners, especially Hunter S. Thompson, but more importantly, it examines the beginning of the new style of writing itself- where it came from, how it originated, even how the name was founded and introduced.
This website will be used for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Almost Famous by/about both authors.  In this section, I can find reviews, pertinent information about actors, actresses, directors and dates for the movies.  Of all internet movie sites, this is the most up-to-date and correct information I have found.  This may also lead to other review sites.

Kramer, Michael J.  “Can’t Forget the Motor Ciry”: Creem Magazine, Rock Music, Detroit Identity, Mass Consumerism and Counter Culture.””  Michigan Historical Review.  28.2, 42-77.  JSTOR.
Kramer writes about the magazine Creem and how Bangs contributed to its pages and content.  Because Creem formed the base from which Bangs jumped to go on to his career and why he was featured in the movie “Almost Famous”, I think this is an important source and viewpoint to include in research.

MacFarlane, Scott.  The Hippie Narrative: A Literary Perspective on the Counter Culture. MacFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, North Carolina: 2007. 
Thompson has not been selected for this book because of his hippie qualities or tendencies; instead, he is noted for gonzo journalism.  The new journalism movement was one of the ways that society was breaking free from prior constraints and hippies see Hunter’s writing as a continuation of that form.  Hunter’s writing also jives with some hippie standards because of his drug use; he not only used many drugs but wrote about them as a first person experience.

Tamony, Peter.  "Gonzo".  American Speech.  Vol. 58, No. 1 (Spring, 1983), pp. 73-75.  Web.
Once again, this article should give clarification for the idea of gonzo and why each author is part of the movement.  Due to the fact that gonzo (and writing styles in general) can have such mobile definitions, I think it is wise to include several sources for the definition and style ideas that characterize each.

Thompson, Hunter S.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories.  Random House, Inc., New York: 1996.  
Only by reading Thompson’s writing can one get a true feeling of gonzo writing and the methods used to bring gonzo to life.  His original work will serve as a template on which to base my own opinions; I want to be able to critique how well the movie producers matched Thompson’s writing to the work they put on the screen.  Also, reading original work gives a better understanding of the man himself.

Thompson, Hunter S.  Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist (1968-1976).  Simon and Schuster: New York, 2000. 
This collection of letters will be able to provide more insight into Thompson’s thoughts and feelings, rather than relying on what others believed he thought or felt.  This also includes extensive letters to political powers which will provide background information about Thompson’s thoughts and musings about the government.

Torrey, Beef and Kevin Simonson, ed.  Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson.  University Press of Mississippi, Jackson: 2008.
This source will be useful because it places Thompson in the genre of gonzo; not only does the book include conversations with and about Thompson and others that played a critical role in his development but also gives background and definition to the literary invention of gonzo and how that development fits with the larger creation of new journalism.

Weinstein, Paul B. "Movies as the Gateway to History: The History and Film Project." The History Teacher, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Nov., 2001), pp. 27-48.  Web.
This source will show what impact the films had for gonzo itself.  Although it is a blanket piece, Weinstein's article will help to show that there is an enormous correlation between the industries of writing, movies, music and history.  I believe this will help to show my point that information is spread faster and some reverence preserved with the making of a movie about these writers/pieces.  Also, more people are informed of the movement with this platform.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog 12: Rick Bragg

For this assignment, I chose to read Rick Bragg's Somebody Told Me.  This is a collection of news articles he has written, most (if not all) dating from 1995-2000.  There are often several articles that deal with the same incident or issue and are broken down accordingly into sections.  For example, one entire section of the book is devoted to the proceedings surrounding a woman who was carjacked with her two toddler-aged sons in the backseat.  Bragg's articles follow the search for the man, the car, and the boys, and continues to follow as the story unfolds into the mother confessing that she let the car go into the lake with the boys strapped in the backseat.  One large section also deals with the Oklahoma City bombing, finding the man responsible, the lives it touched, and then following the trial proceedings.

I chose this book superficially- my sister loved Bragg's book All Over But the Shoutin' and I never gave it half a chance.  When I saw that a book on the list for this class was by Bragg, I felt like I could redeem myself and Bragg's writing by reading.

There is not a traditional plot line to this story.  Because the entire book is a collection of news stories, there are common threads and subjects but not one coherent plot.  One common characteristic of the book is sadness; it's hard to put this book down and feel uplifted and happy.  Out of the 15 individual sections of the book, there are four that share stories of fun, tradition, or triumph.  The remainder are heart-wrenching, I-can't-believe-this-stuff-really-happens stories.  Some stories and areas that hit me the hardest included the section about children and violence in schools ('Schoolyards') as well as the stories "The Story of Dirty Red" about a child falsely accused of sexual assault and "Living with a Grief That Will Never Die" about a man that lost his sister and wife in separate bizarre episodes of murder.

Bragg relies heavily on his details and sources to really draw readers into a story.  He often begins with a soft news lead that takes note of things that few people would recognize and most often uses the lead to characterize the people in the story.  He also uses this strategy with places, pointing out one thing that makes that particular place or that place at that time unique.  In the same way, Bragg closes with detail or a clinching quote to drive home the intended affect on the audience.  To incorporate an element, Bragg uses specificity of concrete detail as one of his strongest points of writing.

Bragg writes hard news stories from soft news angles, so he is limited with the amount of subjective arrangement he can use (although he does introduce people first and appeals to the humanity of the subjects and readers then fleshes out the inhumane treatment or problem, often pushing readers to one side or another) and uses the third person perspective to relate each story.

Scene by scene construction is used wisely.  There were plenty of times when Bragg could have been very specific and detailed in the way a murder was conducted or the terrible pains a person went through.  But most often, he doesn't draw out these details so much as he focuses on the present- how people are feeling now, how the victim is reacting now, the way they lock their doors at night or won't go outside because of how the news story events have changed them.  He skips the malicious details and lingers on the things that show rather than tell his point.

Although this really isn't a new element for our literary journalism list, I feel that Bragg's strongest point is personal detail.  He brings stories to life because of the people that he interviews and the attention he pays to qualities of those people.  Often, I would question why pieces were put in a story, such as some context detail about what someone is drinking or that they are sitting in the dark in the interview or the types of toys children played with.  But as I continued reading, I realized he included this to let his readers get a better sense of what these people are feeling and so the audience can know the subject better.  And I got a better understanding of where each person was in their recovery or story.

Rick Bragg was born in Alabama and grew up near Jacksonville, Fla.  He joined the New York Times in 1994 but became a kind of national correspondent.  Most of his stories cover the south east, even reaching over into Texas.  His experience includes writing for the St. Petersburg Times, the Los Angeles Times, and several smaller papers in Alabama.  Since the publication of this book in 2000, Bragg won a Pulitzer prize for his articles about Elian Gonzalez.  Bragg now works as a writing professor at the University of Alabama.

Question: Does the subject matter of Bragg's writing (most oftentimes death and sadness) make him the writer he is?  Would he be as powerful if he wrote about happier times, places, and people?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blog 11: Gonzo +

Throughout The Scum Also Rises, I felt inundated by the resemblances to what Thompson was saying about the weather to what he was saying about the political climate in the city.  Several words are repeated to make the heat, the rain and the discomfort level real to the reader and show how this permeates people's actions.

The description of the hot rain in the beginning relates to the sweat and discomfort that Thompson himself feels as he lounges by the pool in his wet bathingsuit.  Also, people's "eyes cloud over" (308), there is "lashing" rain on the windshield which is the same way that Nixon lashes the kelp on his arm, and the water sucking at Nixon's ankles proves that the weather is a powerful force.  The remark about being strapped to the bed in his sleep (305) also reinforces a discomfort in tone that reminds me of the lashing.  The reference to the fog Nixon disappears into at the end shows the continuity of this message.

(Did anyone else catch the allusion to TS Eliot on page 308?)

Another recurring word that I found interesting was balls.  Whether they were eyeballs, balls of sweat or breaking balls, there were several mentions to the circular shape which typically means regrowth, rebirth and continuity.  Interesting, considering we are looking for rot, dissipation, decomposition.  Perhaps this leads to the opinion that these actions are circular; this Nixon scandal will be cleaned up but that doesn't mean that the 'rot, dissipation, decomposition' will never again infiltrate the the White House or the govt.

The fog at the end shows the chaos that Nixon threw the govt and country into when he began this scandal.  Quite a way to end the article with all the weather allusions pointed out throughout the story.  As stated previously, the weather ties with the climate of the city.  But I find it interesting that the honky tonk (some may consider it primitive entertainment and I may be speaking rashly) is juxtaposed with the center of the country, the center of intelligence: Washington, DC.

Question: Did anyone else notice the 'balls' recurrence?  Did that stand for anything to you?

Blog 10: Gonzo

One characteristic of gonzo is fact reporting mixed with personal feelings.  Thompson gives a "compact description of rancid, criminal sleaziness" that includes the gang's colors, numbers, bands, brands and typical appearance.  Just the fact that he uses those terms show that is telling the audience what to think but provides them with the facts to prove that readers would probably have come to that conclusion on their own.  Taibbi uses this same approach.  He presents information that he believes as factual, such as lists of numbers, names of individuals and companies, and adds his own flavor and opinion between the lines.  If the statement " The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals" doesn't scream of opinion, then I'm not sure what does.

The polarity of Taibbi's piece proves that gonzo is not restricted to writing about music, crazy times, or sex.  He captures moments that are critical and controversial in and to society and writes about why people should be concerned.  This point also correlates with the openness of sex; Taibbi isn't afraid to address the political evils or hide his opinion.  

Rosenbaum's piece is also kind of like factual reporting.  He is sure to include place and time of pictures, as well as the names of people that he interviewed and what connection they had with his case.  He doesn't vaguely allude to people but provides names and good reasons for their involvement in his article.

Rosenbaum and Thompson both give opinions from sources that aren't as highly thought of or given much credit- both the women's discomfort in taking the photos; the doctor and professors' reasonings behind what others would find ridiculous; and the Hell's Angel's opinions of what happened that dreadful night with the girls, respectively.  In this light, gonzo can be seen as championing the underdog; Thompson and Rosenbaum aren't afraid to show the less popular opinion and give them a platform for 'why.'

One quality that lends nothing to journalistic function is Thompson's style.  I am reminded of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, written in stream of consciousness.  But his writing is not so neat and clean as Woolf's.  Instead, he writes and writes for paragraphs at a time like a deer dashing through the thicket and only once he thinks he's lost his pursuers does he bother to look back.

Another characteristic of gonzo is the overt sex appeal.  Rosenbaum focuses on the sex in the Bones article.  Thompson writes about girls and women blatantly; he's attracted to them, doesn't care who knows it and is willing to tell anyone why.  The details of the girls proves this point.  In a way, Thompson makes it appear that this is how the riders function and their interest in sex is the reason he writes about the encounter.  But I think Thompson is also interested in this kind of attention and therefore leans heavily on description and recounting of the incident.  This also comes from a few background readings, but a query on google for 'gonzo' returned a lot of porn hits.  Also adding to this theory is the entire piece by Rosenbaum.  An issue given so much press (not in the inverted pyramid style) affirms the idea that gonzo is rooted in sex.

Of all these writers, Taibbi stands out as the most 'in your face' author.  Most of this assumption is probably because of the profanity he uses, but is also driven home by the fact that he doesn't seem to represent anyone else; he represents his own opinion.  Thompson and Rosenbaum represent other causes and show two sides to the argument.  Taibbi shows his side and Goldman's side.

Rosenbaum and Thompson make the role of the reporter/writer prominent.  Their actions in the story as well as reactions to what happen are just as interesting and become just as much a part of the action as the events themselves.