Tag Archives: Thoughts from the bullpen

Just How Do You Get Your News, Burbank?

Thoughts from the Bullpen…

Being involved with media for over 40 years now, I have seen the ever changing landscape of media.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, when you showed up for an event, people would take notice and want to give you information. If it was a sporting event, they hoped their picture would appear the next issue of the paper. I remember my first job as a photographer for the Burbank Scene (the paper had an office on the Golden Mall) as the greatest thing in the world in 1976. As the 1990’s ended and we raced into the 21st century, it appeared the internet would change everything.

When 2010 came along, I and a few others saw the writing on the wall about the future of newspapers.  While the information was great and important, it was always a days-old story. People could look on their phone and get up to the minute news, weather and sports.

While there will always be a need for thorough reporting, we felt it was time to go digital and in April of 2010, we launched Burbank N Beyond.  We thought it would work – and it did – but the name was hard for people to remember. Thus, myBurbank was born exactly two years later in 2012.

It was hard at first getting the average Burbank resident to know who we were and to turn to us for information. It took a few years to start gain followers.  During that time, we concentrated on being at events in Burbank, expanded our sports and school reporting and covered all the accidents and fires.

We found that unlike the Burbank Leader which was based in downtown Los Angeles, our staff lived in or around Burbank and were always on the scene. People got to know who we were and started to look to us for local news.

Local advertisers started to believe in us based on the fact that people were talking about us and we had a strong social media following. Advertisers saw our numbers of over 30,000 viewers a month as a good investment in their businesses and they liked supporting a local small business also.

Twitter and Facebook became good tools to steer people to our website. While we couldn’t pay enough for full time reporters like the Leader, between our reporters and press releases we were able to get a lot of news out that we thought would interest people in Burbank.  We thought we found a model that was working and growing.

Things have started to change recently.

Now, besides Facebook and Twitter, there are Instagram, Next Door and everyone has a website. This is fine and good to supplement news outreach, but the role of the media is to have a central place people can go to for all kinds of different information.

While we, as editors, can decide what is right and wrong for the site, as well as what is “Fake News” or gossip, we strive to share factual information.  If we ever make a mistake and are called out on it, we go back and make corrections to get it right.

Facebook is great to stay connected with your friends, but as a news source, it is unfiltered and like the new site, Next Door, it encourages people to post whatever is on their mind.

What bothers me is that official news sources are starting to bypass the traditional print, broadcast and online media and taking messages right to these other sites, like Next Door and Facebook, thinking their message will reach a large majority of the people.

I first started noticing the City of Burbank starting to post items about repaving streets in Downtown Burbank and street closures on Next Door, Toluca Lake (which is not part of Burbank.) Nothing was sent to us here at myBurbank about that information.

Recently when the heat wave started, we wondered why nothing was sent to us about cooling centers. Were they going to have them?  If so, where?  We were told the information was posted on the Burbank Library’s Facebook page:

The Central and Buena Vista Libraries are open extended hours tonight (Friday) and Saturday as cooling centers. Buena Vista will also have hours on Sunday from 1-6 pm. The libraries will not offer full services during these extended ours but are open for anyone who needs a cool, comfortable place to sit and access to water and bathrooms.

Image may contain: text

That’s great for the 948 people who follow them on Facebook, what about the rest of the Burbank population? Why not also send that same thing off to the rest of the local media?

If you add up the police, fire and City’s Facebook pages together, their reach still falls below the number of myBurbank followers. Over 100,000 people live in Burbank so we all still have work to do to reach more people.

During the recent brush fire in the Verdugo Hills, we were never sent anything officially by either the City of Burbank, Burbank Police Department or Burbank Fire Department until a day after the evacuations were ordered. Then it was more of a release about there being a fire and the stats used by the Los Angeles Fire Department. It was incumbent on us to listen to radios and make phone calls for information. Of course that is part of our job, to find out and report news. What makes it frustrating is missing the things that we do not hear on the radio and that other agencies decide to post to their different media outlets.

As an example, people asked us about how to get supplies to the firefighters. We called and found that they could bring supplies to Station 11. When Station 11 was full of donations, the City put it on their Twitter account it was full and to not bring anything else. We were never told and continued to tell people to bring supplies.

We were never sent any official communications during the La Tuna Fire except one general press release about the fire although I see different social media posts with other official documents from the City.  This lack of official information gets frustrating for us and our readers.

We are lucky enough to have over 30,00o unique readers a month who visit our site (much more when a huge event takes place) and over 33,000 people follow our Twitter feed. We picked up 1,500 new followers alone during the fire.

We are not saying the City should not post to their own different forms of social media but what we are saying is they should hit the cc button and also sent out official notices to all the media and news outlets.

No matter what, we will continue to find out things one way or another.

In case you are not a Facebook person and you have no idea where to search for information, it is important that you know that you have a source for only news that pertains to Burbank.

Even if you are involved in all different forms of social media, do you have time to check the police website, the fire department’s website, the City of Burbank website, the Library’s website, then start checking all of their Twitter accounts and then, of course, their Facebook accounts? I think they should have all of that on their sites, but also send it to the working media.

We also encourage you to follow all of the different City departments that interest you. We just hope that when you need overall information, we will be here to provide it and that City agencies will make more of an effort to reach a wider audience by including us more regularly in their outreach.


Park Land Giveaway Hurts Burbank Now…and in Future

It has been to long of a layoff, so Thoughts from the Bullpen is back!

They say if you ever want to make an investment in something, invest in land.  It’s not a stock or commodity, it does not disappear, it is something tangible. Land is infinite and will always be there.  In the eight square miles of Burbank there is only so much land…and so little of that is park land.

Our City Council is taking up the issue of park land in Burbank. This issue has come to the forefront because the Boys & Girls Club has outgrown their facilities and would like to build a $4 million structure in Larry Maxam Park (formerly known as Pacific Park).

According to the City of Burbank, the City currently provides three acres of open space for each 1,000 people with their goal to be five acres.

With new projects such as Talaria, which has already been approved and a new large scale housing project that has been discussed for the present Ikea site, resident numbers can only go up.

Open space and green grass is what makes up a park. Besides the amount of space a building would take up, there is also the immediate area around the building (walkways, fencing, etc.) that also take up room.

This issue is NOT about the Boys and Girls Club, this issue is about parkland in Burbank.

Yes, other areas in Burbank parks have been sliced up and developed. The Tennis Center in McCambridge, the Roller Hockey Ring in Foy Park to name a couple. There is also other development in parks such as a Theatre and Museum in Izay Park, community and senior centers, basketball, tennis and softball fields.  While those have taken up space and reduced green grass, they also provide a direct benefit to the community as far as physical fitness of both the mind and body are concerned. Any member of the community may use any of those facilities by getting the proper permit at anytime.

While the Boys and Girls Club is a nonprofit organization, they are designed to help children only which means they are excluding many to the facilities that is on public land.

Also, in this instance, the area they would like to use has other considerations.  To start, it is in a residential neighborhood. The park does not offer a lot of parking. There is usually just enough for the participants of the softball field which very little left over.

While their intentions are honorable, many use the Boys and Girls Club as an afternoon day care. In the late afternoon, many parents will be driving into the neighborhood to pick up their kids, creating an unwanted traffic and potential illegal parking situation.  You also have employee parking issues as well as company vans that would need parking.

Besides quality of life issues for people that live near the park, there is also the question of what happens when the next nonprofit wants their pie of the pie (I mean the park!), Are we going to start giving away pieces of Carson Park or Mountain View Park? Giving groups permanent usage of a public park is a bad idea.

Of course, you can always rent-a-park. If you would like Maxam Park, the City has a rate sheet for anything you can think of. (Maxam Park rental rates).

Our City Council is going to take up the procedure of how to give away park land to groups. They are trying to figure out if a super majority 4/5 vote should happen or if it should go out to voters. While the thought is nice, they have to realize that they (and us) are the custodians of the future. It is up to us to not only enjoy that open land but to protect it for our future generations.

It’s all about land, the public’s land.


What Is Happening With The City Council?

By Craig Sherwood
Executive Editor, BurbankNBeyond.com

ED NOTE: After first appearing in the Wednesday Leader, then being relegated to the back of the Sunday News Press, then having about a third of each column cut by the editor before then ultimately being fired completely, I decided to bring back the column on a when I feel like writing itbasis.  Now that it is back here, maybe someone will actually be able to find it and read it.

Wow! I have to admit that I am astonished with this one.  I guess that since I did grow up here in Burbank, that I am naiveté to what politics really are, even in the City of Burbank.

We just got finished with our election cycle, and granted, there were not that many contenders compared to the last election since not many people want to take a council job just to eliminate jobs or services.

It came down to two strong candidates with opposing view point with Emily Gabel-Luddy barely defeating Robert Frutos by less then 100 votes.  It was generally a clean election, but hard fought between two newcomers.
Now that Councilwoman Gabel-Luddy is in place, one of the first jobs of the new council is appointing, or reappointing members of the public to different commissions.

Continue reading

Thoughts From The Bullpen Makes A Return From Oblivion

This is a ‘Measure U’  Don’t Want to Vote For

Catch this full article and previous pieces in the ‘FROM THE BULLPEN” section

ED NOTE: After first appearing in the Wednesday Leader, then being relegated to the back of the Sunday News Press, then having about a third of each column cut by the editor before then ultimately being fired completely, I decided to bring back the column on a ‘when I feel like writing it’ basis.  Now that it is back here, maybe someone will actually be able to find it and read it.

This is a ‘Measure U’ Don’t Want to Vote For

By Craig Sherwood
Executive Editor, BurbankNBeyond.com

ED NOTE: After first appearing in the Wednesday Leader, then being relegated to the back of the Sunday News Press, then having about a third of each column cut by the editor before then ultimately being fired completely, I decided to bring back the column on a ‘when I feel like writing it‘ basis.  Now that it is back here, maybe someone will actually be able to find it and read it.

I am embarrassed.  As a member of the Burbank news media, it is my job to try and be informed about what goes on here in the city.  Many times what I know, I can’t write, sometimes because I do not have the ‘smoking gun’ evidence to back it up, or because I have been told things ‘in confidence’ by the movers and shakers who run this city.  I still believe in some of those old reporter codes that the only way to get real information is to gain the trust of those who have it – and not burn them.

Continue reading