A standard journalism task is to obtain viewpoints from everyday people to give news a solid local feel — but editors and reporters likely weren’t warned about Greg Packer in Journalism 101 class.
You see, Packer is a regular fellow with a decidedly irregular life direction: For the last 15 to 20 years, he’s gone out of his way to get his words quoted in major news outlets.
He’s quite good at it, too: Packer’s been quoted in publications nearly 1,000 times.
How does he accomplish this?
The retired highway maintenance worker (now with more time on his hands than ever) simply travels to events that he knows will make the news and positions himself in ways that get reporters to notice the “everyman” and hopefully bite:
And the press has bitten…hard:
When his name first appeared on a newspaper page in 1995, Packer says it made him feel “like I accomplished something.”
The media limelight bug sufficiently unleashed, to date he’s met four presidents, two popes, attended two Super Bowls, and has spoken to reporters on subjects ranging from the war in Iraq to presidential campaigns, according to the New Yorker.
Packer’s ambition to be the most quoted man in news eventually attracted the attention he probably didn’t want: The Associated Press reacted to the glut of Packer maxims by sending its staff a cease-and-desist memorandum:
The ban primarily seems to have given Packer a bigger slice of the limelight. “I do consider the Associated Press memo an accomplishment in my career,” he admits with quite a lengthy laugh.
“When I was at the Columbus Day Parade, a reporter from the New York Times showed up,” he adds. “When I came even close to mentioning my name, he slammed his book and walked away because word got around his office not to use me for any more interviews.”
Despite the infamous AP ban, Packer seems resolute about his passion. “I don’t believe what I do is odd,” he says, “but I find it hard to believe that some people do — out of jealousy and madness and not having any idea about me.”
So, here we go again Mr. Packer — once more giving you the forum you so desperately desire. (Anyone smell a reality show?)
Check out the compelling short feature, “Greg Packer: The Most Quoted Man in News”: