Hunter S. Thompson pioneered Gonzo journalism in 1970, and now it appears Georgia PR agency Alisias has invented GONSO journalism–its own news service, the Georgia Online News Service. Currently there’s nothing on the site, though there is a Facebook Group with a description.
The Atlanta Progressive News pulls apart the connections between Alisias and GONSO, and the conflicts of interest. Alisias handles controversial local and state issues campaigns including the Atlanta Housing Authority. The firm and the news service have the same address, and are tied together by Rick White, President of Alisias and the Chair of GONSO.
Writers and editors for GONSO span from right to left, including former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed, and former columnist for Creative Loafing John Sugg. Air America Radio founder John Sinton is Publisher.
The APN story also discovered that former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Ed Board writer Lyle Harris has Alisias business cards, and is a columnist with GONSO.
So far it’s a free email blast, and according to the Facebook description, the “news feeds that go to every Georgia newspaper and broadcast station as well as more than 15,000 opinion leaders across the state”. I sent emails to Sugg and White, and notes through Facebook and have yet to receive response to the conflict questions. What’s not clear to me either is whether or not GONSO will act like a traditional wire service with potential for pickup in dailies as actual bylines. Even if it doesn’t reach that status, the blasts could sway a few time-pressed journalists making it an effective yet complicated and dubious PR tactic.