"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Not many newspaper personality profiles, even the well done, are edge-of-the-seat reading. Today’s Oregonian piece – first in a series – about former KOIN news archor Jeff Alan, written by TV critic Peter Ames Carlin, is that and more.

And it’s not so much the writing (though Carlin is a fine writer) as it is, simply, the subject matter: A life with the kinds of turns and surprises a fiction writer wouldn’t dare try to craft. A television anchor, webmaster of a site devoted to bondage, a witness to the assassination of Robert Kennedy, a researcher for a conservative group into voter fraud . . . who went missing and was legally declared dead, by his wife, 16 years ago. And that only scratches the surface . . .

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