Five years after the founding of Berkeleyside, the news site breached the magical 1 million.
Berkeleyside’s coverage of the Berkeley protests since Dec. 6, as well as the recent rainstorms, has pushed monthly pageviews — a common metric for websites — to 1,171,831. In the past 30 days, we had 327,683 unique visitors.
By comparison, one year ago over the same period we served 475,000 pageviews to 141,000 unique visitors. Last month, before the protests, 214,000 unique users accessed 681,000 pages.
Berkeleyside has also had huge engagement on its Facebook page, which currently counts 7,456 fans, and through its Twitter feed (14,747 followers).
On Facebook, Berkeleyside posts on Dec. 6-11, the height of the protests, reached 260,000 people. On Twitter, in the last month we’ve had 6.7 million impressions from our tweets, with the peak occurring on Dec. 9, with 1.7 million impressions.
“I think these numbers show there’s a hunger for well-reported news at a local level,” said Tracey Taylor, Berkeleyside’s managing editor. “I hope it’s also a sign that local news can grow nationally through sites like ours around the country.”
Berkeleyside is one of more than 300 so-called “hyperlocal” news sites that have emerged across the country in recent years. Started in response to the cutbacks in newspapers, most of these sites focus on small geographical areas like neighborhoods or towns. Berkeleyside covers a broader area than most — a city with a population in excess of 116,000.
Despite the growth of local news sites, there still is no model for their financial success. All raise revenue though a variety of ways — advertising, events, member support, merchandise sales, etc. Even big websites like BuzzFeed, Vox, and FiveThirtyEight aren’t profitable; those sites are mostly fueled by investment.
All of this to explain why Berkeleyside thinks the 1 million pageview mark is important: We are now 5 years old, but are still experimenting. And the fact that so many people relied on us in recent weeks shows our efforts are appreciated.
In fact, the feedback from Berkeleyside readers has been enormous, both through comments on the site, via social media, and in emails and phone calls. Kate Mountain was just one of many who got in touch with us. “I am so appreciative of your excellent coverage of the protests this weekend in Berkeley,” she wrote. “You managed to provide a highly informative, compelling compassionate narrative of these events. I know your reporters were working very hard.”
To everyone who has responded to our work: Thank you! It’s kept us going through long days and nights of coverage.
And to those of you who have recently chosen to help us keep up the work — by becoming a Berkeleyside member and underwriting independent journalism — we thank you too. Your support is vital to our long-term health. If you are not a member yet, please help and sign up now.
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