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Coming full circle

December 8, 2012
Matthew Burdette , The Inter-Mountain

For as long as I can remember, my favorite movie has been Orson Welles' immortal classic "Citizen Kane."

In the movie, Welles' character - Charles Foster Kane - says, "I don't think there's one word that can describe a man's life."

While watching the film for probably the 100th time last week, that utterance struck particularly close to home for me as I open the book on a new chapter of my newspaper career as executive editor of The Inter-Mountain.

Perhaps the most ironic twist in my life thus far is my career path itself. As a youngster - through elementary school at least - two of my least favorite schooltime chores were two of the three Rs - reading and 'riting.

In my younger years, reading was particularly challenging for me, and writing, that was just the bane of my young existence. It actually was painful.

Besides, at the ripe age of 10, I already knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps and work in the glass factory. To my young, impressionable mind, the awe and skill of that process interested me to no end. Besides, my father was the one I looked up to most in life. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.

Fast-forward to junior high, and my world would change forever. As a freshman, I decided to partake in a new elective offered at my high school - journalism. It wasn't so much the actual class that captured my attention, but a favorite teacher of mine had taken on the advising duties.

I can honestly say this was the best decision of my life - past, present and even future.

As part of the class, we had the unique opportunity to produce our little upstart high school paper at a real-life newspaper facility - The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.

I will never forget the first time I walked into that office building. The smell of ink, paper, hot wax and developing chemicals all combined to form this unforgettable fragrance - the smell of the newspaper business.

From the hustle and bustle of the newsroom on deadline, to the curmudgeonly reporters and editors scattered throughout the facility, I could tell there was something truly special going on there.

Like a man being drawn to the priesthood, I knew this was my life's calling - something I could do to make a difference in people's everyday lives.

For the remainder of my high school career, I absorbed everything there was to know when it came to putting out a good newspaper. Through my advisor, I even was able to get a part-time job at the newspaper in the sports department.

Throughout my time at The News & Sentinel and The Journal in Martinsburg- from college and beyond - I worked with some amazing reporters, editors, publishers, photographers, designers and production personnel.

I have been fortunate enough to have lasting friendships with many of these great people and have been able to draw upon their extensive knowledge as I have advanced through my own career in the newspaper business.

That's why taking over the newsgathering operations here at The Inter-Mountain is so truly special for me.

It not only helps to make tangible the faith many people have put in me over the years, but it also reminds me what a huge responsibility I have to the community and all our Inter-Mountain readers.

This is a responsibility I do not take lightly, and one that I will strive to fulfill and exceed on a daily basis.

This newspaper has such a rich and colorful history. It also has an unrivaled tradition of success. Succeeding people like legendary newspaperwoman Eldora Nuzum and all who came after her never is an easy task, but it is definitely one I am excited to accept.

Contact Matthew Burdette at



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