Here’s How Sean Penn Describes His Brand of Journalism

By Chris Ariens Comment


In Charlie Rose‘s much anticipated interview with Sean Penn on 60 Minutes tonight, Penn described what led him to rural Mexico and a meeting with one of the world’s most wanted men, El Chapo, and the Rolling Stone article that came out of it.

I do what I call experiential journalism. I don’t have to be the one that reports on the alleged murders or the amount of narcotics that are brought in. I go and I spend time in the company of another human being, which everyone is. And I make an observation and try to parallel that, try to balance that with the focus that we–that I believe we–tend to put too much emphasis on.

Rose: What about those who say, “This is his ego. He likes being in the center of this. He– he’s an adventurer. He thinks of himself as a writer in the tradition of Hunter Thompson with a kind of experiential quality to him.” Do you accept any of that?
Penn: Do I accept that people feel that way?
Rose: Yeah.
Penn: I absolutely accept that they feel that way.
Rose: And are they right?
Penn: No, they’re not right.

“I’m really sad about the state of journalism in our country,” Penn continued. “It has been an incredible hypocrisy and an incredible lesson in just how much they don’t know and how disserved we are. Of course I know that there are people who don’t like me out of the gate … Journalists who want to say that I’m not a journalist. Well, I want to see the license that says that they’re a journalist.”