Jewish World Review May 5, 2000 / 30 Nissan, 5760
When your first dream
turns out to be your best dream
HAD A NICE TALK with the city editor of the Monroe,
Mich., Evening News the other night. It made my
Now, when you think of city editors, you may
envision gruff, jaded,
seen-everything-heard-everything old guys,
world-weary and tired and worn out by life's bad
But the city editor of the Monroe Evening News is
Doug Donnelly, 29, and. . . .
Well, we go back a ways.
I first spoke to Doug when he was 16. He told me
"I probably cannot fit into your `average 16-year-old'
group. Most 16-year-olds have their minds on girls,
basketball, football and rock music. I admit, those do
rate 2-3-4-5 on my list. However, there is one thing
that is more important to me than anything else in
my life, and that is newspapers."
At 16, Doug had fallen in love with the idea of
newspapering. "I don't know why, exactly," he told
me back then. "It all began when I was about 7 or 8
years old. I'd glance through newspapers and I
would get ideas -- like where I would put stories in
different places in the papers, and where I'd add
more color. It was like I was an editor, designing the
He subscribed to two newspapers, but that's not
where he did most of his newspaper reading. His
father and his brother were both long-haul truck
drivers; their routes would take them from New
York to California on almost a weekly basis, and
Doug would ask them to pick up local papers for him
along the way. His dad and brother would stack
newspapers in the cabs of their trucks, and when
they would return home to Michigan Doug would
greet those papers like they were the riches of the
"My main goal in life is to be a newspaper writer,"
he told me then. "Newspapers are special in a way I
can't even describe. I want to be a part of them."
I wished him all the luck in the world -- mainly
because he reminded me of a kid I used to know.
He said that his dream was to write for a newspaper
in New York. He went to college, he got married, he
took a job at a Kmart store in Toledo, Ohio. One day
he saw a classified ad in the Toledo Blade -- it said
that the daily newspaper in Upper Sandusky, Ohio,
the Daily Chief-Union, was looking for a reporter to
hire. He didn't call the editor -- he drove the 90
minutes to the town and showed up in person. When
the editor was busy, Doug stuck around. The editor
was impressed. Doug got the job.
He liked it a lot. He worked at that paper for a
while, and then he and his wife decided they wanted
to move back closer to their families. So he got a job
at the Monroe Evening News as a reporter --
"covering the County Board of Commissioners, the
road commission, and other government beats." A
year ago he moved to the sports department. And
then, last November, the job of city editor opened
up. He got it.
So Doug, at 29, is running the news department at
the paper in the same county where he grew up --
the hometown paper he used to read when he fell in
love with newspapers in the first place.
"We have a staff of 10 reporters full-time, and two
full-time photographers," he said. "We're an
afternoon paper -- which is more and more unusual
these days -- so I'm at work by 6:30 every morning.
Our paper starts coming off the presses at 1 or 1:30,
and the papers start hitting our subscribers' front
doors by 2:30 or 3. By the time I drive home from
work at night, people are reading the paper we've
put out that day."
He still reads papers from around the country,
although he doesn't have to depend on his father and
brother bringing them to him in their trucks anymore.
"The Internet has made it so much easier," he said.
"I read a dozen or so papers every day just by
looking around the Internet."
He's not certain if he will ever get to New York to
write for papers there -- or even if he still wants to.
He and his wife have three young children, and he
loves raising his family in the same community
where he grew up. His 3-year-old daughter recently
started Sunday school, and she didn't like the idea of
singing in church with all those other people around.
Doug -- the city editor off-duty -- began playing
Beatles CDs for her at home, and she started
joyfully singing along with "Eight Days a Week," and
it got her accustomed to the sound of her voice in
song. She does fine in Sunday school choir now.
"That's part of the feeling of being where you
belong," Doug said.
He belongs in his home county -- and he belongs in a
"I wasn't wrong when I was 16," he said. "I knew
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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