Matthew Tessnear joined The Observer News Enterprise as managing editor, Catawba County;s community newspaper announced Monday,
"We are excited to announce this new addition to our staff," said O-N-E Publisher Michael Willard. "Matthew has a solid background in journalism, and I am confident that he will help The O-N-E continue to report news that is important to the readers of our newspapers and our online publication."
Tessnear, 26, is a native of Alexis in Gaston County. He studied journalism at Gardner-Webb University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2007.
He was most recently city editor of the Sun Journal in New Bern, where he edited weekly entertainment and features sections and helped guide production of the news section each night.
Prior to that, he was an education and general assignment reporter for two years at the Sun Journal. During that time, he helped cover New Bern resident Bev Perdue’s 2008 run for state governor, the retirement of a longtime public school system superintendent; heavily attended book-release events for New Bern resident Nicholas Sparks; and the New Bern Bears’ first state football championship in 2007. He also covered a variety of local school and government news, murders, business news and wrote profiles on many members of the community.
In addition to his experience, Tessnear's ties to the area and his focus on community news make him a good fit for the Catawba County newspaper that has served area residents since 1879, Willard said.
"Matthew is already familiar with this area, and with roots in the region, he shares some common bonds with people in Catawba County and the entire region," Willard said. "Plus, like The O-N-E, he understands the importance of putting the newspaper's editorial focus on the people who make this community strong as well as the issues that are important to them.
Tessnear said he is excited to return to western North Carolina to stay in a career he enjoys.
“All my family is here in the western part of the state, and it feels good to be back in the region I’ll always consider home,” he said. “I’m a big family guy. My parents are at retirement age and my grandparents are getting into the latter stages of their lives, so it’s a good time to be close and a great opportunity.”
Tessnear also said he sees holding the newspaper’s editor position as a challenge and a privilege.
“The O-N-E is a newspaper that’s already heavily immersed in the community,” he said. “That’s something I’ve been able to see in the short time I have been here. The number of community organizations who submit information for publication and editorial coverage is quite high for a community this size. Our readers stand to gain the most from that kind of involvement.”
When not working on the newspaper, Tessnear enjoys cheering for the Carolina Panthers and North Carolina Tar Heels, cooking, cheap trips in the Southeast and writing poetry. He also enjoys going to high school football games and trying out local restaurants.
“It’s only a matter of time before I try out the best Catawba County has to offer in local fare,” he said. “I also look forward to heading out to some of our local high schools to watch football on Friday nights. This area has some of the most tradition-rich programs in the state, so I’ll be in for a treat.”