The reboot of local news, video, and features website, Burbanknbeyond.com is out to shake up the Media City and grab a bigger chunk of the online audience. There is probably more Burbank news, sports, and events on BurbanknBeyond than any other website. Now B-and-B is even better.
The new look of Burbanknbeyond debuted a few weeks ago with numerous upgrades, better organization of stories, and a much more readable front page. Executive Editor and driving force behind the site, Craig Sherwood, says more tweaks and improvements are on the way.
Here’s a Q&A with Sherwood about the site, where it started and where he wants to take it.
1. BurbanknBeyond has a dramatic new look, what are some of the major changes and why did you feel they were necessary?
When I started BurbankNBeyond back in April of 2010, I had a limited amount of experience as a website designer. My goal at that time was to try and provide Burbank with a daily news source since all there existed was a twice weekly newspaper with a limited website and a bi-weekly paper with no web presence. I found after about a year that the idea was working, but the website I had created was not able to keep up with or reflect the constant changes and updates. I looked around at different media outlets and found most used a WordPress template, so I decided to go in that direction. I taught the media department at Crespi High School for nine years and had some extremely talented students who went on to college and studied web design, so I turned to Matthew Majcher and started working out the new design. What I was looking for was a fast paced layout, but something that would also archive past stories so that they were easy to find. I thought it was very important to incorporate social media so people could interact as well as having areas where people could leave comments. I had to also incorporate our videos since we are the only full content Burbank media outlet that offers video which hopefully makes us unique. Bottom line was we had to redesign if we wanted to be a player.
2. In terms of readership, BurbanknBeyond has seen considerable growth, right?
Our growth has been amazing once the word started spreading. I have the site hosted with Go Daddy and they send out a daily report of hits and locations. In July of 2010 we were at about 5,000 hits a day and by July, 2011 we were averaging about 20,000 a day. Once we launched the new design, we are now averaging about 35,000 a day with 3 different days we have exceeded 50,000. What is interesting is that about 60% are from Burbank, 20% from Glendale and North Hollywood/Toluca Lake, and the rest all over the United States.
3. Is it part of your plan to actively challenge The Burbank Leader for the position as the main local news source in Burbank?
I would love to challenge the Burbank Leader as the main news source for Burbank but it is just not possible, yet. Let’s face it, the Leader is part of the L.A. Times, and as much as Leader people will deny it, they do have resources from the Times that go into their local coverage.
At what we do, I think my staff does beat the Leader for daily news, since we are all located and live in Burbank. We know the City and the people.
I am also currently working to find some more people who can write a City Hall beat, school beat, and a couple of other areas that I have ideas about but can’t discuss because if I do it will give someone else that idea. Right now I know most people come to us first when there is a big accident or fire or big event in the City, once I can get the editorial content daily I know that we will be a player. I know the issues and the stories that people in Burbank want to know about, I just don’t have the resources to get the information out yet. There are 100’s of untold stories in this city. Hopefully things will start changing with this new design.
4. If there is something else you would like to add, go ahead.
I think the news business has no idea what the future holds. Everyone is convinced that on-line is the future yet trying to find the revenue that will support it is tricky. With that said, I think local news will always be the key and people will always seek out what is going on in their neighborhood that affect their daily lives.
Hopefully this new design will attract advertisers and once that happens I have no doubt that BurbankNBeyond will become the first choice for people in Burbank.
Craig Sherwood writes a column for BurbanknBeyond, “Thoughts From The Bullpen.” You can check it out here.