The Los Angeles Times and reporter Tina Susman took a little ribbing over the weekend for interviewing notorious “regular guy” publicity seeker Greg Packer.
You remember him, right? He’s the guy who’s always first in line for the latest iPhone or iPad, and made the Wall Street Journal in 2003 for being possibly “the world’s most successful ‘man on the street.”
He also prompted the Associated Press to put out this memo in 2003:
To: News Editors/Correspondents USA
The world is full of all kinds of interesting people.
One of them is Greg Packer from Huntington, NY who apparently lives to get his name on the Associated Press Wire and in other media.
A Nexis search turned up 100 mentions in various publications. And that is just a handful of the stories. He shows up in AP Broadcast actualities and in one APTN piece.
Mr. Packer is clearly eager to be quoted. Let’s be eager too — to find other people to quote.
So far, he is apparently just attending East Coast events. But it is not out of the realm of possibility that he will someday show up in your town, first in line somewhere.
So how did Packer get into Los Angeles Times’s weekend story on Whitney Houston’s funeral?
“I’d never heard of the guy,” reporter Susman tells Romenesko readers in an email, “and apparently none of my editors out in LA (where I’ve never worked myself) have heard of him either — or at least he’s not high enough on their radar to flag his name.” She adds:
There were so few fans there [at Houston's funeral] compared to the number of reporters amongst them that it didn’t take much for someone to get quoted, especially at that relatively early hour when I was there. The pickings were relatively slim numbers-wise, and he made a point of interjecting himself into a conversation I was having with two other women in the small crowd of fans hanging around that morning. After he made some comments that were relevant under the circumstances, I asked his name.
After I mentioned the AP memo and WSJ story, Susman point that that “I’ve been overseas most of my career so probably a bit out of the loop on the guy.”