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Magna » When the paychecks stopped, Colin Douglas didn't.
The Magna Times editor kept his keyboard tapping and his camera shutter snapping for months after the small-town newspaper's payroll ran dry.
"I couldn't let it go," Douglas says. "I couldn't see past the next story."
Instead, the community newsman pounded out a paper every week from the time he pocketed his last paycheck in April to the day he announced his "leave of absence" from the Times in mid-September.
Even then -- with a notepad and pen still crammed in his shirt pocket -- he volunteered for a freelance assignment chasing an election follow-up about West Valley City Councilman Joel Coleman's unsuccessful re-election bid.
Meanwhile, the newspaper still doesn't have the money to pay him.
"You know what it's called?" says Howard Stahle, publisher of the 4,000-circulation Times . "It is called love of the community, love of people, love of seeing things done right. That is what it is."
Douglas was a late bloomer in journalism, getting his start only after rearing seven children and spending 20 years as an editor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' curriculum department.
The newsman smiles as he thumbs through the clippings he used to land his first full-time reporting -- and editing -- gig at The Magna Times in 2007. Most of the police blotters, photographs and feature stories are a half-century old. The only exception is a front-page freelance piece on the Topaz internment camp that ran in the mid-1990s in the now-defunct arts and entertainment rag, The Event .
He might have included something more recent -- if he had had it.
Truth is, Douglas' newspaper career never made it off the presses. As a high-schooler, he worked a summer internship at a hometown broadsheet in Anacortes, Wash., and later attended college on a journalism scholarship sponsored by The Seattle Times . But he was too timid to pursue that path professionally.
Even after returning from an LDS mission to Brazil and from a several-year Puerto Rico deployment with military intelligence during the Vietnam War, Douglas found his niche outside of the newsroom, editing educational materials for the LDS Church.
That job came smack-dab in the middle of his graduate studies at Brigham Young University, where he was studying American literature. Several of his classmates -- also hired by the church -- put their degrees permanently on hold. Douglas didn't.
"I just hate to quit," Douglas says. "That is the main thing. It was more a matter of character than intellectual achievement."
Three years later, BYU awarded Douglas a master's degree.
But Douglas always yearned to be a writer -- a desire that traced back to freshman English when his teacher, so impressed by his short story on an alien living in his bedroom closet, read his work to the class.
So, in 1995, after two decades with the LDS Church, he quit his job.
Douglas never succeeded in becoming a book author -- the detective novel and police procedural he started remain unfinished. But he found himself in newsprint, first as a freelancer for The Event and later as the publisher of an ultimately unsuccessful neighborhood newsletter that circulated to about 100 residents.
It wasn't until September 2007 that Douglas, then 63, found himself in the Main Street offices of The Magna Times applying for a part-time job. Instead, the publisher offered him a full-time slot as the weekly's editor and lead reporter.
Since then, Douglas has spiced his tenure with sometimes-controversial stories -- most notably a 175-column-inch examination of Magna's dueling community councils: one a democratically elected board funded by Salt Lake County, the other a privately run coalition of community leaders predating World War II.
Douglas took some dings for that report. But one of those critics, Community Councilman Dan Peay, says the editor proved himself a straight shooter -- a commendation he conveyed to a union representative who had asked whether the labor group would get a fair shake by talking with The Times .
"I never thought he tried to slant [the news] one way or the other," Peay says. "He tried to report the facts and let the chips fall where they may."
Unfortunately, the chips haven't fallen so lucratively for The Magna Times , which remains hard pressed for enough cash to pay its staff. After laboring without pay for more than four months, Douglas took his leave several weeks ago. Facing financial hardships, he and his wife, Linda, have to sell their house and move closer to family in Saratoga Springs.
Douglas hopes to return someday to the newspaper, insisting that his departure is merely a "leave of absence."
As for The Magna Times ? Stahle insists a paycheck will arrive for Douglas.
"We still intend to pay him," he says. "It isn't that he will never get paid. But he hasn't got it yet."
For now, the newspaper -- like many across the nation -- simply must fight to survive. Stahle doesn't plan to stop the press he and his wife have owned since 1972.
"It doesn't mean I won't go broke," Stahle says, "But I'm not going willingly, I'll tell you that. I'll go kicking and screaming."
Name » Colin Douglas
Age » 65
Family » Wife, Linda; seven children.
Occupation » Former editor of The Magna Times
Education » Bachelor's degree in psychology and master's degree in American literature from Brigham Young University
Interesting fact » Carries a concealed .45-caliber Ruger in his fanny pack.