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This Average Joe Is the Most Quoted Man in News

Feb 20, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Andrew David Watson

Meet Greg Packer, a retired highway maintenance worker who has been interviewed by American media outlets over a thousand times. Since his name first appeared in a newspaper in 1995, Packer’s penchant for media appearances has led him to meet four former presidents and two popes. He has spoken to reporters on subjects ranging from the war in Iraq to the release of the first iPhone. Ultimately, Packer’s quest for media ubiquity was so successful that the Associated Press sent its staff a memo banning interviews with him.

Andrew David Watson’s short documentary The Most Quoted Man in News shows how Packer took up the mantle of the American everyman. “Greg goes to incredible lengths to be in the right place at the right time,” Waston told The Atlantic. “He does, in fact, have a method that puts him in front of the reporters and TV cameras.”

Ironically, Packer’s seasoned ability rendered Watson’s job more challenging. “Greg is so used to quickly coming up with the best short sound bite that getting him to answer a question with more than five words proved difficult,” Watson said. “Luckily, we were able to finally hit a conversational tone to the interview, but it took a little bit of time.”

“I think Greg’s obsession reveals a lot about our news ecosystem,” Watson continued. “It shows the weakness of the need for constant reporting and America’s obsession with the desire to be in the spotlight.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.