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National Editorials & Columns

Newspapers attract all sorts of people

I don’t want this to sound threatening, but you might want to think about what you say to me, because someday I’m gonna write a book and you’re all gonna be in it.

Well, probably not everybody. OK, hardly any of you. Maybe a few. Aw, who am I kidding? I’m never going to write a book.

The life of a newspaper guy can be, let’s use the word “interesting.” Every crackpot and conspiracy theorist that walks into a town ends up at the newspaper office. I’m not talking about you, of course. You’re fine. But the newspaper is a magnet for anyone who has a story to tell.

Over the years, I’ve had some doozies. I won’t say that I’ve “heard it all” because I’m constantly amazed by the stories I hear. I’ve had a couple of doomsdayers wanting to show me proof that the world is about to end. One guy brought in reams of research on contrails with a theory about how the government is intentionally poisoning us. One guy told me that he had definitive proof that Obama is the anti-Christ.

Many of them had legitimate information with no legitimate way to disseminate it.

It’s not lost on me that people rely on the newspaper to tell the stories that they can’t tell themselves. Some of those stories need telling and some don’t. That leads to a necessary skepticism.

There are times when I know my sources consider me to be a pawn for their own agendas, and those are often the best sources. It’s easy for a reporter to spot manipulation because it’s everywhere every day.

It’s easy to become jaded, though, when you realize that everyone has an agenda.

It’s an interesting life, though. Each day is a new page with the anticipation of another colorful character crossing the threshold. When it stops being interesting, that will be the time to quit.

I can’t say we’re a perfect lot spreading harmony and happiness across the land. But I think we do some good. That’s the goal.

My agenda is to wake up tomorrow feeling good after a guilt-free slumber, make enough money to pay my bills and try to make the world around me a better place. When I get to the end of the book my life is writing, I want each page to be worth reading.

• David Porter can be reached at

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