Are we living in a golden age of stunt journalism_

On June 15, 2015, Brendan Klinkenberg ate a burrito. Baked avocado egg bowl It was a breakfast burrito packed with eggs, bacon, avocado, beans and cheese. Avocado and egg bake Several hours later, he ate another burrito for lunch. Avocado and egg nutrition Then, for dinner, a carnitas burrito, which he purchased at a taqueria in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.


Toast with avocado and egg Klinkenberg repeated the diet—skipping breakfast—the following day. Avocado and egg on toast And the next day, and the day after that.

“It was a mistake,” Klinkenberg, then a tech reporter at BuzzFeed, says a year after his burrito cleanse. Baked avocado with egg “You shouldn’t eat only burritos for a week. Avocado and egg for diabetes It feels terrible.” The idea was pitched to him by an editor, though Klinkenberg happily consented. Avocado and egg recipes The headline was guaranteed to garner attention. Avocado and scrambled egg BuzzFeed would pay for the burritos. Avocado egg tomato breakfast That’s a week of free meals. Avocado egg recipe microwave Why not?

“I thought it was kind of a silly idea and I’d just do it and be done with it,” Klinkenberg adds. How long to bake avocado and egg “But it was pretty bad. Avocado and egg toast You just feel like garbage.” In his write-up, he declared it “the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” and “not worth the tortilla-wrapped misery.”

“I’ve smoked coffee grounds, ate gourmet dog food, got drunk off a humidifier full of vodka and most recently tried to get drunk off a few gallons of Kombucha,” says Jules Suzdaltsev, a writer who has taken stunt journalism to its logical extremes.

A decade ago, stunts like this might have been fodder for a reality show, like Fear Factor or maybe Jackass. Avocado egg roll recipes Today, the Jackasses are just as likely to be professional journalists, dressing up as Marilyn Monroe or strapping on an adult diaper in the name of content. Sandwich with avocado and egg And as ad models shift toward video and live streams, journalists are now eating paper and freezing themselves in cryotherapy chambers on camera.

Immersive journalism is not new. Avocado egg nog In 1887, the reporter Nellie Bly feigned insanity in order to be committed to a New York City insane asylum. Lean in 15 avocado and egg Her stay resulted in a landmark undercover account of appalling conditions at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Egg and avocado breakfast recipes Eighty-odd years later, Hunter S. Avocado and egg diabetes Thompson wrote a manic first-person account of the 1970 Kentucky Derby, which more or less invented the genre now known as Gonzo journalism.

“What’s happened now,” says Duy Linh Tu, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, “is there’s been an escalation in the types of stuff [writers will] do.” Stunt journalism is pretty easy to define: It’s any article wherein a writer becomes a guinea pig, attempting some masochistic or outrageous challenge in an attempt to prove a point or provide a first-hand experiential account. But it’s not so easy to trace its history; nobody can really tell you when stunt journalism evolved into today’s more sensationalist form, so let’s just go with May 2007. Baked avocado egg rolls That was the month Vice magazine had an intern masturbate into an ice tray for a week, freeze the semen and then eat 12 multi-flavored “cumsicles” (ew) formed from his seed.

The stunt piece might be understood as a distant cousin of the personal essay, the confessional form that now commands great power and even greater traffic on sites like Thought Catalog and xoJane. Avocado and baked egg It’s similarly intimate, except the pain—physical or otherwise—is self-inflicted. Avocado and egg baked It flows out of a capitalist self-interrogation that’s familiar to Leonardo DiCaprio: “How much bodily and emotional harm am I willing to do to myself for the sake of my career?”

And while no journalist has (yet) tried imitating DiCaprio’s grueling regimen in The Revenant—sleeping in animal carcasses, eating raw bison liver, risking hypothermia—movies are a popular source of stunt ideas. Avocado and egg face mask In 2015, the Jezebel staff valiantly tried masturbating to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Breakfast with avocado and eggs The same month, that Cosmopolitan contributor attempted to complete every sex act from the film with her boyfriend in a single weekend. Avocado and egg mask The write-up was more exhausting than erotic (sample line: “His hips are thrusting but there’s no light behind his eyes”). Egg and avocado salad More recently, a Refinery29 writer published a piece titled “What Happened When I Ate Like a Disney Princess for a Week,” taking dietary cues from animated Disney icons like Belle and Ariel.

Each of these pieces contains incidental traces of the personal essay, whether it’s the Disney dieter revealing her childhood Little Mermaid obsession or the Fifty Shades sex-marathoner confessing that she maintains a Sexual To-Do list in a Google Doc somewhere. Egg in avocado weight loss But the tone is different. How to make baked avocado and egg The personal essay searches inward, mining personal experiences for content; stunt journalism searches outward, creating experiences from scratch. How to make avocado and egg It’s a neat trick: You’re no longer required to have an interesting life in order to write about yourself. Avocado and egg blood sugar The personal essay declares: Here’s a Private, Harrowing Thing That Happened To Me. Avocado and poached egg on toast The stunt piece cries out, from a state of deep depravity: Check Out This Fucked Up Thing I Did to Myself. Avocado and poached egg recipes The stunt piece emerges from a place of intrepid journalistic daring or just old-fashioned poor judgment (they are not always distinguishable from one another). Avocado and egg breakfast recipe It’s a tale of endurance rather than survival.

“I think it’s kind of like the [man’s] answer to the personal essay,” says Larson, the GQ satirist. Avocado and egg recipes buzzfeed “They get to personalize it and use a lot of the first-person, but it’s still couched in this goofy idea. Recipe for baked avocado and egg With men, it’s like, ‘I only drank alcohol for 96 hours.’ I think Vice did that.” (“It didn’t kill me,” raved the writer who carried out that stunt, but he did struggle to differentiate blood from Bloody Mary mix in his bowel movements.)

“What Happened When I Ate Like a Disney Princess for a Week” is a recent stunt journalism piece published on Refinery29. Avocado and egg breakfast pizza The Little Mermaid/Buena Vista Pictures

If the modern stunt essay has a film antecedent, it’s Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 hit documentary chronicling his own attempt to gorge on nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days. Avocado and egg in oven However jokey it seemed, the stunt served the public interest in clear ways: Spurlock drew national attention to the obesity epidemic, and McDonald’s discontinued its Super Size option shortly after the film premiered. Healthy egg and avocado breakfast Less journalistic value is accomplished by ingesting nothing but alcohol for a week. Avocado and boiled egg breakfast Duy Linh Tu, the journalism professor, wonders whether the term “stunt journalism” is a misnomer. Avocado and egg breakfast sandwich “I don’t think all of this is journalism,” Tu says. Avocado and egg “I’m not making a quality judgment. Avocado and egg in microwave It’s all content…. [But] you won’t be able to build a long-term journalistic organization pulling these stunts.”

You might envision stunt journalism as a giant spectrum, with “newsworthy” on one end and “existentially pointless” on the other. Avocado and egg yolk face mask In the former category, you’ll find Mother Jones’s powerful recent dive into life as a prison guard or Motherboard’s Soylent investigation, “How I Ate No Food For 30 Days.” In the latter—well, if you can read the entirety of Vice’s account of feeding laxatives to strangers wearing adult diapers, that’s a stunt in and of itself.

There are other categories, too, like the stunt piece where you can’t tell if it’s a parody or not ( “I’m 23 and Dressed as Royal Baby Prince George For a Week”) and the stunt piece that’s so mundane it barely qualifies as a stunt ( “I Tried Waking Up an Hour Earlier Every Day for a Week”) and the stunt piece that doesn’t follow through on its headline ( “I Paid This Company $30 to Break Up with My Girlfriend”) and the stunt piece that’s been done way too many times before (see: “I Let My Boyfriend Dress Me for a Week” boyfriends, as ranked by Gawker). Avocado and egg breakfast Bad writing can sink a good premise, but good writing can also lift a ho-hum stunt: “I Stopped Giving My Husband Blow Jobs for a Month,” by Cosmopolitan’s mystery writer, turns out to be a very funny rumination on sexual routines and sacrifices in a relationship. Baked avocado and egg recipes It all depends on the writer. Egg and avocado sandwich recipes “I’ll read David Foster Wallace drinking bone broth for a week,” says Larson, “but it’s just not as interesting when it’s a young person starting out and trying these increasingly crazy stunts.”

At Columbia, Tu isn’t teaching his journalism students how to dress like Disney princesses. Avocado egg and bacon “We don’t talk about it,” he says. Avocado and egg on toast healthy “Not because we don’t think it’s something our students would ever be exposed to or lean towards. Avocado and egg health benefits We just have other fish to fry.” That said, his students “might go to a place like Vice or BuzzFeed or any of these online platforms that get very loosy-goosy with what’s allowable,” Tu adds. Baked avocado and egg breakfast “Maybe we should address it more.”

Super Size Me, though, proved prophetic in subject as well as style: Stunt journalism frequently involves fast food and extreme diets. How to use avocado and egg for hair A few months after the burrito piece, Cosmopolitan published “I Only Ate Pizza for a Week and I Lost 5 Pounds.” Another reporter tried eating nothing but Chick-fil-A for a full 30 days, while a BuzzFeed contributor tasted 12 different brands of cat food. Avocado egg oven recipe Sometimes the fast food industry’s concoctions are so ghastly that merely sampling the latest item on the menu passes for a stunt. Avocado egg and oil hair treatment In 2015, for instance, Time, Fox News, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time Out and Newsweek all made a big show of tasting Pizza Hut’s “hot dog-crusted pizza” monstrosity. Vegemite avocado and egg (One wonders if the foods themselves are created to solicit exactly this kind of coverage for free advertising. Avocado and egg dinner It’s not so far-fetched, considering Chilis made an Instagram-friendly burger bun.) More memorably, ex-Gawker writer Caity Weaver famously gorged herself on unlimited mozzarella sticks as part of a nightmarish TGI Friday’s deal. Avocado and scrambled egg recipes And in other cases, the food is pretty much incidental: Dan Ozzi, an editor at Noisey, recently spent 12 hours in Taco Bell on 4/20—the ultimate weed holiday. Avocado and egg yolk hair mask (Full disclosure: I’ve contributed to Noisey and have worked with Ozzi.) He describes the stunt as “really isolating and boring.”

“There’s a thirst for content,” says Ozzi. Avocado egg boat recipe “There’s a need for all-purpose, evergreen content all the time. Baked egg and avocado This one in particular—I realize that I’m insulting myself by saying this, but it also says a lot about journalism that it’s a very me-focused thing: ‘Oh, I did this. Egg and avocado recipes for breakfast I went out and did this stupid thing.’ It is very focused on the writer, because digital media makes it so that online popularity is the new form of currency.”

Especially now that content creators are stunting not just behind the laptop but in front of the camera, too. Poached egg and avocado on toast BuzzFeed Video is owed some credit—or blame—for the shift. Avocado and egg hair treatment BuzzFeed’s “Try Guys” (a team of guys who, well… “try” things) have racked up millions of views exploring zany, gender-bending antics on camera: trying cosplay, trying on wedding dresses, simulating the feel of going into labor, changing a diaper for the first time. Avocado and egg sandwich recipes More than shock value, these videos make a desperate bid for relatability, the secret ingredient for converting mundane subject matter into viral manna. Avocado and egg breakfast recipes Look! they scream. Avocado egg yolk honey hair mask These men are discovering how gross it is to change a diaper!

Many of the stunts amount to a kind of superficial tourism of gender, class, or race. Baked avocado with egg in the middle BuzzFeed’s diary of a flannel-wearing dude wearing makeup for a week (which has well over a million views), for example, attempts something that women do daily just long enough to produce viral content but not seriously enough to produce much insight. Avocado and egg sandwich healthy Writing for Gawker, Leah Finnegan likened the piece to John Howard Griffin’s book Black Like Me, deriding it as “stuntertainment at its worst: doing something a large swath of the population does every day as if it’s a remarkable act.”

In recent months, the advent of Facebook Live—the social network’s bid to become not just an unending stream of updates on your ex but also a 24-hour TV channel where you can watch your ex snore in real time—has both bolstered and redefined stunt journalism. Salad with avocado and egg The livestream form encourages stunts that are visually alluring and immediately gratifying (hardly anyone is going to tune in to your stream for more than, say, 10 minutes at a time). Avocado and egg calories So when BuzzFeed got nearly a million viewers to watch two guys in smocks explode a watermelon on Facebook Live, the landmark antic spawned dozens of “future of media” blog posts and nearly as many copycat stunts. Egg in avocado recipe pinterest A week later, Mic, a prominent BuzzFeed competitor, broadcast its staffers donning lab coats and blowing things up in real time, to significantly less fanfare.

Meanwhile, a Washington Post columnist literally ate his words on camera, swallowing down a “newspaper ceviche” with graceful composure, while the New York Post had its staffers attempt to eat three pounds of artisanal cheese on Live. Egg and avocado toast As a May headline on Recode phrased it: “Facebook Live is turning journalists into bad Jackass copycats.”

This is an old journalistic instinct—don’t look for a story, be the story—funneled through new media channels. Egg and avocado for breakfast It’s not the recklessness that’s new (war reporters have long put themselves at risk) but the desperation. Avocado deviled eggs recipe paleo Still, what the stunt piece and the personal essay have in common is that the best writing stems from horrible experiences—and that neither of them are going away soon. Avocado and egg salad recipe The stunt craze is liable to change how would-be journalists go about breaking into the industry. Avocado and egg microwave Or maybe it already has.

“Whenever kids ask me how to get into writing, I’m always just like, ‘You know how to get into writing? Go fuck up your life really bad,’” Ozzi says. Avocado and egg hair mask “Go do something really stupid. Avocado and egg diet And then write about it. Poached egg and avocado That’s where good stories come from.”