Glenn Burkins is a Journalist, Publisher, Editor, Dreamer
When we interviewed Glenn Burkins at Hygge’s Camp North End location, we sat in the back room where the walls are bright yellow and the sun just streams in. On this particular morning, the room was warm and well-lit. You can imagine our surprise when in all that sunshine and light, we felt all the oxygen sucked out of the room.
That happened the moment Burkins answered our question about the most interesting story he covered as a career journalist.
“The most interesting story was probably when I was embedded with the 26th Marine expedition in Kosovo for The Wall Street Journal,” he says before pausing. “The most life-changing story of my career was when I was on the ground covering the genocide in Rwanda.”
At the time, Burkins was based in Johannesburg as the the Africa Correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer; he was on the ground there to cover the first democratic election in South Africa that would change the history of the country. Not long after that, he began his on-the-ground coverage of the genocide from Rwanda. He covered the story on and off for a year following the 100 days of conflict that left 800,000 people dead. The aftermath left the country without food or electricity. Burkins would leave Rwanda to stock up on supplies and rest before ‘going back in,’ as he put it.
“It was hard; it was stressful; I knew people who were killed as there was nowhere you could go in the country to escape death,” he recounts. “You don’t watch that many people die and come away without questions; it was Hell.”
As real and raw a story as it is, he is calm and deliberate; thoughtful and smart. What you can also feel in that sunny room that morning was just how much the experience changed him – and how it changed the way he tells a story and talks about community.
Burkins went on to serve as the White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal; then, the Business Editor and Deputy Managing Editor for the Charlotte Observer.
After eight years with the Observer, he felt it was time to try something different. The next step wasn’t part of his plan.