Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Warren Hinckle III, the godfather of Ramparts magazine, has died at 77

Warren Hinckle in 1987, with his dog Bentley, in San Francisco.
Photo by: Eric Luse/San Francisco Chronicle via AP
The death of Warren Hinckle III last week at the age of 77 marks the passing of a style of journalism that was best represented during his time as publisher and executive editor of Ramparts magazine in the 1960s. An excellent obituary has been produced by the Washington Post, (which is ironic given that the Post and other mainstream publications dismissed the radicalized world view that Hinckle and  Ramparts represented.) 
I was a devoted single copy buyer of the magazine until it closed in the early '70s and, while I was somewhat cossetted in the safety of Canadian university campus, I read with avidity the writings by and about southeast Asia, black power, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton and the Chicago 8. The magazine never made a dime but found creative ways to keep on going and at its peak had a circulation of about 250,000, no mean feat. 
Oct 26, '68 issue
Hinckle had a piratical and swashbuckling approach to journalism (helped by the black eye patch he wore as the result of an early injury) and is credited with inventing the term "radical slick" for what he did. He believed in pursuing stories others wouldn't, publishing them and promoting them widely. In fact he was a brilliant publicist. 
He and the magazine were hated by other magazines, notably TIME which never missed an opportunity to predict Ramparts' imminent demiseHinckle said that the very best place to edit a magazine was on a small round table in a very dark bar and followed his own precepts, lubricating it with screwdrivers. Later, he and Sidney Zion for less than a year ran another exceptional magazine called Scanlan's and still later he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of San Francisco. In many ways, the muckraking legacy of Ramparts is carried on by Mother Jones magazine. 
If you want to know more about Hinckle, here are two sources: 



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