Last week, we launched a redesign of the Burbank Leader's website. It was a "soft launch," meaning we didn't make a big deal about it.
This is not because we're not happy with the results; the opposite is true. I'm extremely proud of what we've done. The new site truly combines the power of the print and online editions: similar to the paper itself in look and feel, but with all the speed and flexibility of online.
I want to recognize Web Editor Jamie Wetherbe, who has done a tremendous job leading this project. Her handiwork has resulted in a crisp and clean look, uncluttered with illogical categories and unnecessary links. Once all the features are in place, the site will be many times better than it was before.
Which gets me to my next point. As with any change, there are growing pains. Many sections have moved and others have temporarily disappeared. Please be assured that these annoyances are only temporary, and we ask you for your patience.
In particular, our archive and commenting functions are in the process of being retooled. During the coming weeks and months, look for more interactive and multimedia features, increased real-time news, and easier access to articles and photographs.
I also want to recognize three people who were honored recently by the Los Angeles Times: Raul Roa, Christopher Cadelago and Matt Wilkes. The Times, which owns the Leader, allowed us to participate in their internal awards for the first time, and I want to share a bit about our winners.
Photography: Raul Roa Raul has been with Times Community News since only September, but has already made an indelible mark. His crisp, visual storytelling is matched only by his energy and uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time.
On numerous occasions — notably during the mudslides that followed the Station fire — editors tried to send Raul to the scene, only to find he was already there. In addition, he thoroughly understands the importance of the online edition, filling the websites and staff blog with consistently high-quality work.
Beat Reporting: Christopher Cadelago In many ways, Chris' beat is one of the most challenging in the newsroom. He is the only reporter dedicated solely to Burbank, and covers an intense variety of stories. As the Burbank Leader comes out twice a week, he has also become an expert in both breaking news for the Web as well as rewriting those stories for the print edition.
This ability served the paper very well last year when issues within the Burbank Police Department came to light, and Chris' work become the primary source of information on the topic. The paper has become increasingly important for the people of Burbank, and much of this is a direct result of his work.
Editor's Award: Matt Wilkes As chief designer for the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader, Matt has his hands full. Fortunately for us, those hands belong to the quickest and most creative designer in the chain. Late-breaking news or last-minute changes never bother him, one of the reasons the TCN North papers have had a nearly perfect deadline record in the nearly six years he's been with us.
Matt oversaw a major redesign of the Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun in November, modernizing the overall look. And, last month, Matt was honored with two California Newspaper Publishers Assn. design awards, accolades likely to increase when judges see our new look.
Choosing the winners for the awards was incredibly difficult, as I work among such dedicated and competent professionals. I believe we produce one of the finest community papers in the state, if not the country. I hope you agree.