A quiet day at a newspaperRead Now
Here's a revised sample story from my book Haunted Utah ...
I sat alone in the small newsroom, a large picture window in front of me that looked out onto Main Street, and on my desktop a half-written story. It was a quiet morning, the kind I enjoyed in order to get things done.
The Magna Times, owned by Howard and Bonnie Stahle, had served the community since 1907. Its cozy, ink-filled building is just as old. The Stahles, who acquired the building in the early 1970s, worked long and hard to make it a vibrant voice in the community. They eventually opened two other weekly newspapers, one to serve nearby West Valley, the other to serve the township of Kearns. I worked as the newspaper’s managing editor for two years, from 2004-2006, overseeing the production of all three papers, and at a transitional time for the struggling business. I helped pull it into modernity – or, as its masthead reminded me every day, the “Times” – by initiating its own website and tackling broader-based stories than its previous writers had covered. It was an uphill battle, however, both economically and practically, and I eventually pursued greener pastures at larger newspapers.
I still have fond memories working for the Magna Times, now under new ownership, and I enjoyed sitting in its spacious musty-filled newsroom. At the time, there wasn’t much new about Magna. Everything seemed old – from the brown-brick buildings to the dust-covered newspapers that sat tucked inside cabinet walls to the alleged ghosts that still haunt the now more modern looking downtown Magna.
Perhaps one of those ghosts visited the newspaper.
One morning while working on a story, I heard the presses in the backroom begin to roll. That’s interesting, I thought. Nothing should be printed today. I got up from my desk and walked to the pressroom, finding it empty and quiet. Was it just my imagination? I wondered.
And then a figure walked across the back of the room and into the building's old dark room, now in the digital age not in use anymore. It was probablly the press operator, a man named Carlos. But why would he walk into the dark room, which now was nothing but darkness and clutter. I called to him.
I walked passed the press and followed him into the dark room. I called again: “Carlos.” Again, no answer.
I turned on the light. The room was empty. He couldn’t have gone elsewhere, because there was only one door, and I was standing in its entryway.
Had I just witnessed a residual haunting in the historic building, or was it strictly my imagination? Whether it was paranormal or not, I figured there were ghosts here anyway – in the paper’s archives where the stories of people past and present seemed just as fresh as the day they came off the presses. In that way their memories live on, their ghosts speak from a bygone era.
But there are other stories about old Magna and the alleged ghosts that roam here, real ghosts that offer very real frights ...