The Popcorn Stand: He was a Wolfe in journalism’s clothing
Thomas Wolfe, arguably the most influential writer of our time, died on Monday at the age of 88.
Wolfe made his mark as an author and a journalist. He along with other prominent writers of his time created the New Journalism. To say New Journalism was the combination of literary and journalistic styles when reporting on something would be a gross over-simplification.
Sportswriters for a long time had practiced New Journalism, and although it’s true Wolfe brought a style used in sportwriting to news reporting, that too would be an over-simplification. While it sounds funny — in today’s era of “fake news” — it’s needed more than ever but Wolfe’s writing placed more importance on the “truth” over “facts.”
We all have our own version on the “facts,” which is why it’s so important for journalists today to get to the “truth” of the matter, which is what Wolfe did.
There’s not enough space here to cover all of Wolfe’s accomplishments and contributions but it’s because of Wolfe that we now classify each generation in a certain way. Before the iGeneration, Millennials and Generation X there was the “Me Generation,” which was Wolfe’s not so flattering description of Baby Boomers before Baby Boomers were called Baby Boomers.
Yes, Millennial, Baby Boomers were once thought to be selfish themselves, but the term “Me Generation” was the first label of any generation. Part of Wolfe’s legacy was his reporting the truth about how selfish we can be — through several generations.
One of my favorite movie lines comes from the end of the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” when the editor says “When the legend becomes truth, print the legend.”
Well, Wolfe was a legend who printed the truth.
— Charles Whisnand