Using Yourself as Bait: Personal Notes from a Gonzo Journalist

Sam Cliff
7 min readDec 16, 2023

Over time I realized a balance between inevitably being part of a story — this is my life and I document it honestly, hence Journalism — and using my force of will to affect the outcome.


I use the term “bait” as a Noun according to Merriam Webster:

1.a: something (such as food) used in luring especially to a hook or trap

The concept of using bait does not distinguish between the bait surviving the hook or trap situation or being sacrificed in the process of obtaining a larger thing of value.

This entails risk. Sometimes it’s risking reputation or money, sometimes it’s personal skin and bones…or the way Police in the United States think about it, um, use somebody else to catch your prize. Ethically I have issues with using bait for negative motives. There are positive motives — survival is one.

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Sam Cliff

Gonzo School of Journalism, BA & MA, Guitarist, OCTX, IG austin_on_guitar