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iBerkshires Turns 11 Years Old

Tammy Daniels

An impromptu celebration of iBerkshires' 11th birthday on Monday at our offices on 106 Main St. in North Adams.  On the ends are Tiffany Williamson and Fredy Alvarez, Boxcar employees who help us out a lot. In the middle from left are sports photographer and news clerk Marty Alvarez, senior reporter Andy McKeever, sales executive Wanda Haley and Editor Tammy Daniels. Our boss Ozzie Alvarez was holding the camera; missing the party were South County reporter Nichole Dupont and community editor Aimee McDermott.

We almost missed it, but our sharp-eyed writer Andy McKeever noticed that we'd just hit a milestone: 11 years.

Yep, that's how long iBerkshires has been posting stories and notices about the region. Eleven years isn't much compared to our closest print competitors, both of whom boast lineage back more than a century. But in the case of Internet news startups, we're practically old fogies!

It was at midnight on April 11, 2000, that the very first article (really a press release) was posted on iBerkshires.com. It was actually story No. 2 — no one quite remembers what happened that day but it's believed No. 1 was a test to make sure the system worked.

We had founder and publisher Ozzie Alvarez blow out the candles. The cake was chocolate fudge and raspberry (you know you want to know).

The stories and postings that first week are, well, weird. There's a couple numbers missing and some jumping from April 11 to April 5 and back again. We're going with the 11th — that's the first on the website so we're sticking with it.

The biggest story back then was No. 5, what appears to be a press release announcing our predecessor company Publications Resource Group Inc. moving into the old Roberts Co. with visions of a 100 employees. Well, that was when we were the "Little Silicon Valley," before terror attacks and recessions.

Still, Internet companies haven't done too badly in North Adams over the years and neither has iBerkshires. We've had plenty of changes, starting out as mostly a posting site for press releases (thank you, Williams College!) and community notices. Then we were the online version of The Advocate for a couple years after our parent company, Boxcar Media, moved into 106 Main St.

We parted company with print in 2005 and never looked back. Over the past four years, we've worked hard to become a source for local news by covering meetings, events and elections in North County and Pittsfield. We've been working our way into South County, too.

Most Viewed

Slideshow: 20,548 — Hoosac Downs Rival Drury 52-36

Article: 69,729 — Pet Food Recall List (really!)

Blog: 11,797 — Council Will Review Mayoral Term, Public Safety Post

Most exciting: the 2008 bank robbery in front of our offices.

iBerkshires has grown from a writer and a news clerk to a staff of six or seven full- and part-timers, three of whom are staff writers. We also have some great freelancers and are pumping up our sports coverage by dedicating full pages to seven North County teams this year.

We have a few sister sites, including BerkshireJobs.com, BerkshireNonProfits.com and BerkshireSkiing.com.

As I write this, iBerkshires has posted story 38,274; that's not counting the hundreds of blog posts and thousands of photographs. We have nearly 10,000 obituaries dating to 2000 on our site, too.

There's so much news, we've begun sending out a weekly iBeat to keep readers caught up. We've also added Facebook, where we try to keep things fun, and Twitter. We'd like to find more ways to engage the community in helping us report the news and keeping neighbors informed. In fact, we've got another project coming up to "drill down," as they say, for even more hyperlocal content.

So stay tuned, and don't forget to let us know how we can be better for you. 

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