From Fargo to Hun: Chuck Klosterman visits The Hun School
Grant Versfeld ’17
On Tuesday, renowned journalist Chuck Klosterman visited Hun to give a talk for Hun’s Centennial Speaker Series. Mr. Klosterman has years of experience in journalism, and he has written for Esquire, ESPN, The New York Times Magazine, and pop-culture site Grantland. He came to Hun to discuss "Life Through the Prism of Pop Culture," in which he described ethical dilemmas of journalism, specifically pop-culture journalism, in the 21st century. Mr. Klosterman’s discussion included many personal anecdotes and stories from his books to exemplify how he has encountered and overcome such dilemmas in his own writing.
One of Mr. Klosterman’s main references was to his time as an ethicist for The New York Times Magazine. As an ethicist, his job was to reply to questions people sent in about various moral conflicts. A letter that he still contemplates asked about the ethics of telling bad news to people who otherwise would not have learned the information. Mr. Klosterman explored the issue and asked the audience, “If everyone believes something, and they are wrong, am I obligated to tell them that they are wrong? Or do people have the right to believe things that aren’t necessarily true?”
His discussion pondered these questions and many others, providing students an important look into how ethics can be applied to almost every situation imaginable. For example, Mr. Klosterman shared an experience from when he wrote his book, Killing Yourself to Live, that arose when he chose to write about real experiences and people in his life. After discussing the book’s content with one of the people who appeared in it, he realized, “If you write something in a book, or you write anything, that will become the memory for the reader even if they had the same experience.” He stressed that journalism is a powerful tool, and that every writer has an obligation to themselves, their subjects, and their readers to share information as accurately as possible.
After discussing these and other ethical dilemmas at the assembly, Mr. Klosterman attended a lunch with faculty and students where he expanded on some of his points from earlier in the day. He told of his start in journalism writing for his school newspaper in high school and in college, and how that experience inspired him to take on journalism full time later in life.
Overall, Mr. Klosterman’s visit was one of the highlights in Hun’s Centennial Speakers Series and the community is glad to have had the chance to hear him speak.
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.