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Berkeley local news site celebrates 1 year

Veteran journalists Lance Knobel, Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel created Berkeleyside.com in the fall of 2009 to fill what they saw as a gap in news coverage of Berkeley as well as a platform for community discussion.

The site began taking ads in February and they report they are well on their way to “becoming a sustainable local business.” They report 45,000 unique visitors each month, according to a press release.

On their first anniversary, they have redesigned the site with the help of Berkeley designer Doug Ng to provide clearer navigation, give advertisers more display space and enable editors to add elements to the site in future.

“We had taken the site about as far as it could go with a fairly standard, blog-like design,” said co-founder Tracey Taylor. “We wanted something that looked far more professional, and conveyed a greater sense that this is an important news site.”

In the year since its launch, Berkeleyside has broken many news stories, including one questioning whether a new bicycle social media site contributed to the death cyclist and the backlash against Lotus founder Mitch Kapor’s quest to build a new house, among others. Berkeleyside’s stories often become water cooler fodder, such as a musing on the decline of Chez Panisse, the spotting of a mountain lion in the Gourmet Ghetto, the closing of a beloved toy store, and the rumors that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were staying at the Claremont Hotel.

Berkeleyside is also adding to its range of activities. On Jan. 24, it will hold the Berkeleyside Local Business Forum, an evening discussion on how local businesses can find ways to thrive in today’s difficult economic conditions. Lance Knobel, co-founder of Berkeleyside, and former Director of the Program of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, will design and curate the Forum’s program.

Berkeleyside is also developing an iPhone and iPad app for Berkeleyside, which should be available before 2011.

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