Carlos Campos has been on both sides of publicly told stories, first as a journalist and now as a government spokesman, which gives him a rare point of view about how tales are shaped and shared. For many years, Carlos was a top reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where his beats included Atlanta City Hall (and where, full disclosure, he and I became friends). But now, after a stint at a public relations firm, Carlos works for the city he used to cover. He was the spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department starting in 2009, and then was named interim communications director for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed last fall.
You’ve been a storyteller, an advocate and now, frequently, a subject in stories that are shared publicly. Which plays the biggest role in telling a story?
Stories are always told through the eyes of the storyteller — and that’s not a criticism of any storyteller. It’s just the immutable truth. Having been on so many different sides of a story, I’ve seen them told from a number of angles. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but it’s one of my favorites: “There are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth.” Every story will have holes in it, often created by how we see it. Storytellers have a tremendous amount of power that comes with an obligation to seek the closest approximation to truth as possible.
As a reader, do you like print or digital?
I’ve always enjoyed books and newspapers. But I have adapted to the Digital Age. I can appreciate the nostalgia that some hold for the feeling of holding a book or a newspaper. For me, the ability to access hundreds and thousands of books and newspapers via a single electronic device is nothing short of amazing.
Favorite blog or website?
Snopes.com investigates urban legends, which have always fascinated me — how they get started, how they grow. It’s my go-to site whenever I see some absurd claim, which almost always turns out to be false.
Favorite story or storyteller?
Jon Krakauer’s book on the Everest disaster, “Into Thin Air,” is absolutely compelling from the first sentence. I have a short attention span, so I need authors who grab me by the throat very early on.
Well, I would have to say “Don’t Stop Believin’.” … Oh wait … My favorite journey was in 2000 back to my homeland, Cuba. It was bittersweet. It was beautiful to see relatives – aunts, uncles, cousins – I had never met before and to experience the culture and people. But it was immensely sad to see the poverty and government oppression. At least my relatives know nothing else, and their spirit has not been killed.
Your Own Go-To Story:
I was born in a poor nation to parents of limited means. We are living the American dream; we came to this country with nothing and have had an opportunity to become educated, graduate from college, own a home, hold good jobs and pursue life, liberty and happiness. Yes, it’s about as corny a story as you will ever hear. But it is my truth — one that I fully embrace.
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