The Paper promotes Angela Copeland to editor, Sandra Queen to A&E editor and expands staff

Transition from start-up to sustained business model for continued coverage of Burke County local news


MORGANTON, NC May 6, 2024 – Sixty-six weeks into the venture, The Paper, Burke County’s (N.C.) only all-local, local-owned, home-delivered print and digital newspaper, transitioned from a start-up concept to a sustained media source with promotions and expansion of staff.

Bill Poteat, who was The Paper’s first hire and who as editor built a team, a culture, and a newsroom philosophy perfectly fitted for Burke County, has been promoted to Editor Emeritus. He will work three days a week writing profiles, features, and columns, and assisting news operations as needed.

“Being the first editor of The Paper has been a wonderful and joyful experience,” said Poteat. “But it’s the right time for me to work a little less and enjoy life a little more. I have the utmost confidence that our new editor will build upon our established standard of excellence.”

Angela Kuper Copeland has been promoted to Editor of The Paper’s print and digital newspapers. Hired before The Paper was published, she quickly advanced from part-time education reporter to Arts & Entertainment editor. The Paper’s popular A&E section is entirely her vision and she built it from a concept to a valuable component of community news.

Copeland holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University and a master’s degree in English from Troy University and has a demonstrated record of accomplishments in her career, including roles in newspaper start-ups, reporter, editor, and a public affairs host for the regional NPR network in Montgomery, Ala.

“Throughout my journalism and communications career, I have always been drawn to the stories that reflect the personality of the community,” Copeland said. “My priority is to help the team bring our readers the stories they won’t see anywhere else.”

Sandra Wilkerson Queen has been promoted to Arts & Entertainment Editor from Education and Business Reporter. Queen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, both from the University of North Carolina - Asheville.

A former teacher in the McDowell school system, Queen began her journalism career as a general assignment reporter and lifestyle editor for the McDowell News.

"Music has been a part of my life since the time I was born,” Queen said, “and I discovered theater in middle school. I’ve loved the arts and been inspired by artists for as long as I can remember, so I am ready to amplify our coverage of the thriving art, music, and cultural community in Burke County." 

Charda Pearson has joined The Paper as its Education, Business, and General Assignment Reporter. A graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Public Relations and Mass Communication, Pearson has vast experience in communication and public relations, including nine years with Sky at Twelve Media Group in Los Angeles, Calif., where she specialized in marketing and public relations.

"My family is from Burke so this is a full-circle moment for me. It’s Divine,” Pearson said. “I look forward to building lasting relationships in the Burke County community."

Nathanael Eure has joined The Paper as its 2024 intern. A Morganton resident, Eure is completing his Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies from Appalachian State University. Since enrolling in 2020, Eure has consistently been recognized as a member of the Housing Honors Society, comprising the top 5 percent of on-campus student leaders.

Eure will participate in all elements of The Paper’s operations including research, reporting, writing, and political coverage.

"For years I thought I was destined for law school after college, but after being introduced to the field of journalism in two amazing courses at App State, I was left with a lot of introspective questions on what I wanted to do after college," Eure said. "I felt like The Paper was the perfect environment to grow and by the end of this summer my hope is the guidance, hands-on experience, and communication skills can make me a better leader."

Jessica Beane has joined The Paper as its Visual Creative Director overseeing page design, graphic presentation, prepress production, and an assortment of other design-related needs. These services had previously been outsourced.

Beane has nearly 30 years of experience in newspaper production, including a decade of page design and layout for the Lee Enterprises family of regional media properties including those in Marion, Morganton, Hickory, Statesville, and Concord.

The Paper Publisher Allen VanNoppen said the promotions and additions are part of the next phase of the publication’s strategy. “We have proven the concept, have captured brand awareness, have established the product, and have gained considerable market share in our quest to bring to you a locally owned, all-local, community-driven print and digital newspaper,” he said.

“On May 1, we transitioned from a start-up mentality to an operational model focused on being Burke County’s preferred source of local news for decades,” VanNoppen said. “This expansion of The Paper’s news-gathering structure increases our local news leadership and expands our capabilities of serving Burke County readers with interesting, relevant, and responsible local news.”

The Paper generates its revenue from three sources: advertising, subscribers, and philanthropic tax-deductible donations to the Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation (WNCJF) and the Nelle and H. Allen Smith Limited Endowment.

Barbara Wetsig-Lynam, a 20-year leader in designing and executing philanthropic partnerships globally, has been named Executive Director of the newly formed Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation (WNCJF), based in Morganton. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Geneva.

"I am thrilled to take up this needed community effort to safeguard local journalism,” she said. “Securing our future of continued in-depth coverage of local news and information is paramount for an active civic society.”

ABOUT THE PAPER: Based in Morganton, NC, The Paper is Burke County’s only home-delivered, all-local, locally owned, and locally-managed print and digital newspaper. The offices are located at 110 S. Sterling St., in the heart of downtown Morganton.

It is supported through paid subscriptions, print and digital advertising, and charitable contributions to the Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation, a 501(c)(3). 

The mission of the Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation is to provide sustained purpose-specific funding to support The Paper, an all-local, locally-owned print and digital newspaper committed to residents of Burke County. 

In addition to providing balanced, responsible, and thorough local news to the residents of Burke County, The Paper is committed to becoming a long term valued asset to Burke County through its deep relationships, integrity, transparency, engagement and succession development.