Into the Wild

10 October 2016

In the world of journalism, there is a code of ethics known as journalistic integrity, which when followed, ensures that the work done by journalists meets certain standards. Journalistic integrity includes fair, unbiased material with truth and accuracy. This is a tough job, and journalists sometimes let their own experiences and opinions interfere with journalistic integrity. A very obvious example of this is Jon Krakauer’s account of the odyssey of Chris McCandless: Into the Wild.

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He shows a lack of objectivity, along with a lack of impartiality, based off of his obsession with the American Spirit. It is very easy to notice this lack of objectivity and impartiality throughout the book. Throughout Into the Wild, Krakauer uses examples of the “American Spirit,” and applies it to both his life and Chris McCandless’s. When he was writing the book, Krakauer felt a connection to Chris because of their similarities, including the American Spirit. This connection brought a lot of criticism to Krakauer, because it made it hard for him to say anything negative about Chris.

There are several examples of Krakauer’s American Spirit, which was overall shown through his thrill for adventure. Krakauer shows that in his youth he “… devoted most of my waking hours to fantasizing about, and then undertaking, ascents of remote mountains in Alaska” (Krakauer 134). What he means here is that he always had a hunger for climbing. He also shows off his thrill for adventure here: “How would it feel, I wondered, to be balanced on that bladelike summit ridge, worrying over the storm clouds building in the distance” (Krakauer 133). This quote really stands out, as he is attracted to what most people fear.

Like many people, he “…was stirred by the dark mystery of mortality” (Krakauer 155). In other words, he was interested in and embraced the fact that at some point his life would end, and he had no idea when. Krakauer’s parents had a different version of the American Spirit. Krakauer states that he and his siblings “…were hectored to excel in every class, to win medals in science fairs, to be chosen princess of the prom, to win election to student government” (Krakauer 148). As you can see here, his parents had very different ideas for Krakauer’s life than he did.

Throughout the book, Krakauer seems to glorify most of McCandless’s actions, even a lot of the illogical ones. He is so impartial because in lot of ways he sees himself in Chris, so he only wanted to focus on the smart and brave things that he did. You can tell that Krakauer sees himself in McCandless from the way he compares himself to him; at one point he states that “…Like McCandless, figures of male authority aroused in me a confusing medley of corked fury and hunger to please” (Krakauer 134). This shows that he hated society, yet he still cared about what people thought about him.

When it comes to objectivity, Krakauer does not do a very good job; at many points he puts himself into the story, such as here: “As a youth, I am told, I was willful, intermittently reckless, moody” (Krakauer 134). In this quote, he is also comparing himself to McCandless; this is furthermore showing that he is bias. He even has chapters about himself going though his own personal experiences, which is a lack of objectivity. Also, whenever he does talk about McCandless, he often inserts his own opinions into the story. From his opinions, it makes it very obvious that Krakauer admires almost everything that McCandless did during his odyssey.

While Krakauer is obviously a strong supporter of McCandless and his great adventure, he also tells it accurately. Even though he makes attempts to justify the extremely stupid and reckless things that McCandless did on his journey, Krakauer still does in fact mention all of, or at least most of, the stupid and reckless things that Chris did on his journey. He includes the opinions of many of McCandless’s critics, along with many of his supporters. Krakauer also includes many of McCandless’s journal entries throughout the book, with some very long, and others as short as “MOOSE! ” (Krakauer 166).

McCandless wrote this when he shot a moose, which he later recalled as one of the worst tragedies of his life, because the moose quickly spoiled. While Krakauer does in fact make his story accounting the life of Chris McCandless accurate, he also certainly fails to make it impartial and unbiased. He seems to justify all of Chris’s mistakes poorly conceived plans. The fact that Krakauer used this technique likely drove people away from the book; it is also likely that this pulled other people towards the book. Overall, this book is bias, yet it still has accurate and honest accounts.

Throughout all of Into the Wild Krakauer seems to have no regards for the rules of journalistic integrity. As a result, the reader does not get a full, genuine portrayal of Chris McCandless’s journey; they instead see McCandless through the eyes of Krakauer, which is overall just a reflection of Krakauer himself. As a result of Krakauer’s lack of ability to leave himself out of the story, along with his personal opinions of McCandless, the biography completely lacks the integrity of journalism.

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