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From Arizona Silver Belt’s new editor: where I’ve been

Douglas Long
Posted 9/13/23

About 25 years ago, I landed my first job in the publishing industry, working as a copy editor for mountain bike and motocross magazines in Southern California.

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From Arizona Silver Belt’s new editor: where I’ve been


About 25 years ago, I landed my first job in the publishing industry, working as a copy editor for mountain bike and motocross magazines in Southern California. I was responsible for correcting the spelling and grammar for six monthly magazines. I enjoyed the work, but I gave notice after a year to continue my college education, which I had interrupted a few years earlier to engage in random activities like painting houses, making pizzas and training 20 hours a week for bicycle races.

I eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature at University of Southern California in Los Angeles and stayed at USC for my master’s in professional writing. I also returned to the job market while working on my postgraduate studies, spending three years as a project editor at a Pasadena-based publisher of reference books. I edited and wrote content for books on global conflicts, genetics, space exploration, environmental issues, contemporary literature and popular music – great preparation for shouting the correct “Jeopardy!” answers at the television every day after work. 

The reference book job led to an offer to write for Facts on File, a publishing company based in New York City that specializes in reference books and study guides. My first book was a 300-page hardcover study guide on the history of political extremism in the United States. This was followed by books on global warming and ecoterrorism.

Researching and writing these books meant cloistering myself in my apartment and at Los Angeles Public Library, day after day, for nearly two years. By the time I finished the third book, I was ready for something completely different and a bit more adventurous. 

That’s how I ended up taking a position as the subeditor of a weekly newspaper in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (Burma). Having never set foot in Asia, I went to Myanmar on a one-year contract but – aside from a yearlong diversion working for a daily newspaper in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – ended up staying for 13 years. During that time, I served in every imaginable editorial capacity at one time or another, from business editor, lifestyle editor and world editor, to head editor and editor-at-large.

Myanmar is a beautiful country with a remarkable mix of lively cultures, but when I arrived there in 2003, it was in its fifth decade under the rule of one of the most brutal military dictatorships on the planet. Fortunately, I was in Myanmar to witness the country’s attempted transition from dictatorship to democracy starting in 2010. (Unfortunately, in 2021 the army staged a coup and forced its way back into power, returning the country to violent, dystopian authoritarian rule that continues to this day.)

My wife is a Myanmar national. We married in 2007. In 2017, we decided to move to the U.S. We first stayed in Indiana to be close to relatives. But Indiana was short on publishing-industry jobs, so I began looking elsewhere for work – preferably a small town that offered abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. In early 2020, I took the position as editor of a daily newspaper on Alaska’s Kodiak Island – home to the famous 1,200-pound, salmon-fed brown bears.

But Kodiak was always going to be more of an adventure than a long-term commitment – my wife is a woman of the tropics who prefers hot weather to cold, and although I was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, during the decade that I lived in Los Angeles I had learned to love the desert by spending weekends exploring Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

So, after a year on Kodiak, I set my sights on a job in Arizona. It took a few months to find a position at Lake Powell Chronicle in Page near the Utah border, and then another couple of months to arrange the complicated move back to the Lower 48 during the COVID pandemic. 

We arrived in Page in August 2021. The climate suited us, and the desert had not lost its ability to inspire awe. We enjoyed our time in northern Arizona, but after two years, I was asked to relocate Globe to work as the editor of Arizona Silver Belt and Copper Country News, while continuing to oversee Lake Powell Chronicle (all three papers are owned by News Media Corporation).

The move to Globe occurred in mid-August. My wife and I have spent the past few weeks settling into our house, and at the same time I’ve worked hard to familiarize myself with my new workplace and our new town – which has included getting out to meet some of the local residents, educating myself about the area’s rich history, and even carving out a bit of time for a few quick hikes and mountain bike rides in the midst of our busy transition.

We look forward to continuing this process and all the discoveries yet to come.