Community Owned. Local News. Burke County, NC.
Josh McKinney, Assistant Sports Editor

The Paper is the opportunity I've been waiting for


Who says you can't go home?

Thankfully, I've been given that opportunity. This week was my first as the assistant sports editor of The Paper, and I'm delighted to be a member of this great staff.

Some of you may remember me from my days as a freelance sports writer for The News Herald from 2009-13. Others may know me as the sports editor of the Hickory Daily Record for the past four-plus years. Additional stops along the way included 16 months as the assistant sports editor of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot and 4 1/2 years as the sports editor of The Daily Courier in Forest City.

But now I'm here, reunited with The Paper sports editor Paul Schenkel and one of my favorite teachers from my high school days at East Burke, Bill Poteat, who serves as editor. I've also corresponded with senior reporter Marty Queen and freelance photographer James Lynch Jr. several times in the past, so they're familiar faces as well.

Throughout my sports writing career, I have created countless memories that will last a lifetime. I have grown both personally and professionally over the years and I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had and the relationships I've made for anything, but I have always longed for another opportunity to work in Burke County.

I was born in Morganton in 1990. I spent most of my childhood in Drexel and my wife and I currently own a home in Burke County. Apart from my two years as a student at UNC Greensboro and a short stay in Rutherfordton when I was with The Daily Courier, I have always lived here. As a result, this place is near and dear to my heart.

Words can't fully express how excited I am to tell the stories of the teams, athletes and coaches in Burke County after a decade of doing the same for other communities. I love this county, and it's where my wife and I hope to raise a family. That's why I'm so glad God saw fit to bring me to The Paper.

The early success of The Paper speaks to the talent and dedication of all involved, and I hope to add to what has already been built here. During each of my last three years at the Hickory Daily Record, we won North Carolina Press Association awards for sports coverage, along with a few other awards for excellence in sports reporting. I'm extremely proud of what our team was able to accomplish and I look forward to working with Paul and the others to do the same here in Burke County.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, it's all about sharing stories of the athletic achievements of individuals from Burke County. I don't do this for awards or notoriety, although those things are certainly nice. I do this because I want to draw attention to others. That in and of itself makes this job a rewarding one.

At the same time, joining The Paper is a new challenge for me. I know the area well and I think I'll be a solid addition to the sports department, but I have never written for a weekly publication before. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot was a three-day-a-week newspaper when I was there — it moved to a weekly model earlier this year — while The Daily Courier, The News Herald and the Hickory Daily Record put out multiple print editions per week. 

With that said, I look forward to this new challenge. My hope is that the weekly setup will give me a little extra time to dedicate to each story. And I love the fact that The Paper is completely devoted to local content. After all, people can get their national news elsewhere. In today's day and age, I believe we bring something unique to the table.

I also love the fact that my commute has been nearly cut in half. That will help me save on gas and will also give me the chance to visit more local establishments than I did when I worked in Hickory. 

Furthermore, I'm joining The Paper just in time to check out Burke County's fall sports teams, which creates even more excitement for me. High school football always draws a lot of attention, but I also have a special place in my heart for volleyball and soccer, as well as the other sports that are contested at this time of year.

God brought me back to Burke County for a reason. I trust in his timing and his perfect plan for my life. I'm so thankful that he has made a way for me, and I can't wait to see what he does with me next.


Josh McKinney is assistant sports editor at The Paper. He can be reached at 828-445-8595 or