iBerkshires Celebrates 14 Years of Covering the Region
iBerkshires celebrated 14 years on Friday with cake and pizza. Members of the editorial team Community Editor Rebecca Dravis, left, Editor Tammy Daniels, reporter Jack Guerino and Pittsfield Bureau Chief Andy McKeever (a partypooper for not wearing a birthday tiara).
Doesn't sound like much but in the virtual world it's pretty significant.
iBerkshires.com is celebrating its 14th birthday today. (That's why there's balloons and candles all over our site and Facebook page.)
We're only 9 years younger than the World Wide Web. And we're among the oldest, if not the oldest, hyperlocal news site not attached to any other media, print or otherwise. Even the much-ballyhooed iBrattleboro.com (no relation) didn't go live until 2003.
iBerkshires has been a little bit of everything over the years, a mix of press releases, community bulletin board, citizen journalism, professional reporting, sports write-ups and lots and lots of photos. We were even, for a short period, aligned with a print partner, the now defunct Advocate.
Over the past seven or so years, our mission has become clearer and more focused: Providing the community with local news that matters most to them. We leave our competitors to worry about about what's happening far outside the borders of the Berkshires.
And we know that's a winning recipe because we've grown 74 percent in the last year alone!
We posted story No. 46,238 this afternoon (a scoop on St. Joe football); that's nearly 8,000 more articles since our last birthday party back in 2011 but it doesn't include all our sports stories, blog posts, obituaries and thousands of images.
Since spring 2011, we've covered some memorable news events: The devastating impact of Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28, 2011, crashed the iBerkshires website (our Storm Center page has had 27,770 hits) and forced us to turn to Facebook to get the word out on flooding and road closures. It also provided our readers with a way to inform others about what they knew.
We proudly display our Community Recognition Award from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition citing our "impressively close to real-time" news reporting and the high level of citizen journalism.
More sadly, we also covered the tragic loss of Army Spc. Michael DeMarsico, the first North Adams resident lost to war since 1968 and the third Berkshire County resident within a decade, as well as the funeral of Army Spec. Mitchell K. Daehling of Dalton.
It hasn't all been bad news.
We covered the opening of MCLA's new Fiegenbaum Center for Science and Innovation. We got to celebrate Aunt Bennie Madigan's 114th birthday (she's got a century on us!) and look forward to our invitation to her 115th. We've spoken with Gloria Steinem, watched Billie Jean King lob tennis balls to Williams graduates, met with candidates running for statewide office and current state officials, covered dozens of business openings, school events and fundraisers, fires and accidents.
Our biggest story going into our 14th year is the demise of Northern Berkshire Healthcare and the closure of the 129-year-old North Adams Regional Hospital. The original post has more than 26,000 hits and we're working to keep North County residents up-to-date with continuing coverage of this complex issue in the coming weeks and months.
We've also updated our website and added hyperlocal portals for Pittsfield, North Adams, Williamstown and South Berkshire. Expect more changes in the coming months as we continue to innovate in how we provide news coverage.
What you won't ever have to do is pay to read the news at iBerkshires.com. That's thanks to the many local businesses and agencies that advertise on our websites.
Andy McKeever is now our Pittsfield bureau chief (contact him at amckeever@iBerkshires.com), working with correspondent Joe Durwin, and Rebecca Dravis has joined us as community and arts editor. Stephen Dravis is covering sports and Williamstown and Jack Guerino has come onboard to help cover North County, with a focus on Adams and Cheshire. We also have some great freelancers, photographers and columnists covering a variety of events and new salespeople.
As we celebrate 14 years and growing, we want to thank all our dedicated readers for making us so successful.
Remember, tell them you read it on iBerkshires!