One Year, One Story – One Thank You

March 1, 2011

thank-youOver time, there have been some who have been interested to know the story behind Bernews, so in note of our one year anniversary here it is. It isn’t what one would call a traditional business structure…as exactly one year ago today I launched Bernews with little more then a hope, a dream and a few dollars.

Like many Bermudians, I couldn’t find a job. I had been unemployed for a length of time and — frankly speaking — had run out of money and was flat broke. My job prospects weren’t looking any better, those oh-so-nicely- phrased rejection letters were piling up.

So I conceived the plan of Bernews, and borrowed $100 from my parents, who have been instrumental over the past year. I felt uncomfortable borrowing money, but felt it was such a low amount it was fine. That was used to buy the domain name and pay for several months of a cheap hosting package. As many web savvy people can tell, Bernews was built using free software.

I didn’t own transportation, so that compounded issues – I needed to be able to travel often with minutes notice, late night, to all over the island to cover news.

Nevertheless, despite being unemployed, having no transportation, and being flat broke, I decided to start an online media outlet by myself. I knew this sounded completely ludicrous, so told only my parents at first [I did of course need to borrow the money from them!] I gave myself a 90 day window to make a success of it, or close it. I had no business cards, no transportation, no staff, not even equipment – I borrowed a camera.

I had anaylzed what niche could be filled within the local media, which for a small island already had an array of quality media outlets.  That I determined, was offering fast 24/7 coverage, something the island didn’t have at that time.

Weekend news, breaking news when it happens, news on holidays and overnight etc. The slight hitch was I would need to do it all myself 24/7, since my trusty $100 wasn’t exactly going to cover payroll.

Hence came the round the clock work schedule. Started at 5am each morning and worked till late evening, 7 days a week, sometimes pulling all nighters when news broke overnight. The first few months were just a whirlwind of work, running from place to place with my laptop, and sleeping 3-4 hours a day.

Naturally at first the website made not a single penny, and I didn’t get paid for months. This was something that was greeted with suspicion by some who thought the business – which entailed a website I built myself with free software and no staff – cost some exorbitant amount. People sometimes assumed that Bernews was founded by a cabal of powerful people.

People would ask where Bernews is located, some appearing to expect Bernews to be have fully equipped Hamilton offices with dozens of staff members like traditional media.  The business has always been run from my home, which is in St Monicas Mission/Glebe Road.

In times when we have heard bad news coming from the area, it is an immense point of pride for me to say that the #1 ranked website in Bermuda is run by a resident of the area. It speaks for all the so-called “back of town” that despite our challenges, the areas contain many hard working people who contribute greatly to society.

As the months went on, no matter how hard I worked, it seemed it wasn’t enough. Despite repeated requests on my part, some entities were still refusing to issue press passes or statements to me. I was running all over the island updating Bernews on a latop with mobile internet access while perched on a sidewalk outside whatever I was covering. I would get home and catch up on other duties till late in the night, sleep a few hours then repeat. Some work shifts stretched extremely long,  Hurricane Igor being the longest. Despite my best efforts — Bernews needed staff — but I couldn’t afford to pay anyone.

Dennis Martins, who is responsible for all the great videos you see and most the photos, came onboard at first for the grand sum of $0 per month. For this princely sum of nothing, he provided excellent coverage. Bernews also started getting writing contributed by a veteran of the industry. Tim Hodgson, former editor of the Mid Ocean News, found out Bernews was bootstrapping along and offered his help. From historical features, business coverage and environmental pieces – he added a depth of coverage and brought his decades of experience. Earl Basden, owner of Islandstats, started helping out with sports coverage, free of charge. My parents have been helpful beyond description. When some are in the position of finding it hard to find good staff, Bernews was blessed to have found exceptional staff….all Bermudians. Months later, I managed to sift through all the business offers I had and found people who could financially assist on my terms, leaving the Bernews model as is and me in charge. Ad sales were steadily increasing bit by bit. Largely due to their own stellar work, Tim and Dennis have gone from free helpers to paid workers. They work extremely long hours, are on call 24/7 for breaking news, do an outstanding job for non-outstanding pay, and shatter any notion that Bermudians don’t have a good work ethic. Earl remains onboard helping us with sports coverage, and I am extremely grateful to all three of them.

To all the companies that have chosen to give a new media outlet a chance and advertise over this past year; Bank of Butterfield, BELCO, Bermuda Air Conditioning, Bermuda Pest Control, Bermuda Supply, Business Bermuda, Bermuda Motors, Burrows & Lightbourne, Cablevision, Cambridge Beaches, Capital G, Centre on Philanthropy, Colonial, Computer City, Crissons, Northrock, Gibbons Company, HSBC, Link to Link, Logic, Fairmont, Platinum Realty, Regiment, and TBI…its has been much appreciated. You’ve enabled Bernews to not only stay in business, but to grow and expand. In the midst of a recession, we have created four new part/full time jobs – all Bermudian staffed.

To anyone out there who is in the same boat I was a year ago – unemployed and broke – I encourage you to go for your dreams. An old adage is “the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.” Get out there and work longer and harder than anyone else –you will find support and help coming from places you never dreamed of. We are blessed to live in an island where opportunity is there for us – sometimes we just have to work really hard to find it.

Although we have issues in our community and I have covered many of them this past year, I have also been privileged to see the best of this island. There are few places in the world where a community will rally round someone and assist them day in and day out. People who I never met before loaned me equipment. News tips came in from east to west, from all backgrounds. Complete strangers helped me with graphic design. Other media outlets and reporters welcomed me. Some of the finest minds in local media and technology offered me their free expertise, which I leaned upon greatly. From all walks of life, from East to West, from all backgrounds – locals showed themselves to be generous time and time again.

The level of community support Bernews received has been staggering. So many people lent a helping hand – the list is endless. People have mailed in photos, sent in video footage, called in new tips, and so much more. I debated whether to list people I should thank, but there are literally too many.

To those of you who helped Bernews grow – thanks. It may not have seemed like much to you, but all added up to be instrumental.  For everyone who sent in news or a photo, who emailed in a tip, who sent in sports reports, who left a comment on the site, who joined our Facebook page, who emailed in when you spotted a typo, who offered advice or a kind word – you contributed to the success, and in fact were literally essential.

Bernews would not exist today without the community support. I am extremely grateful.

- Patricia Burchall.

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Comments (65)

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  1. Terry says:

    Irony Pat. I just penned something on Facebook. Gospel truth…….

    Great work by all regardless of critisism. Hell I did’nt even read your whole post.

    Get back latter.

    • Mark Anderson says:

      Congradulations Girlfriend!!! Im so so happy for you, This has surely inspired me to continue to move forward in a positive direction. I so wish you continued success. “”HIP HIP HORRAY PAT!!”" You are the best!!! Im so proud of you!!! I Love you for what you have accomplished. Go Ahead Girlfriend!!!

  2. chelle says:

    Congratulations Patricia!

  3. Triangle Drifter says:

    Congratulations. Bermews is the first source to checke in the morning & the last at night along with visits during the day depending on what is going on.

  4. outstanding! says:

    i don’t even know where to begin except to say how inspiring your story is! your hard work has definitely paid off as i find this not only to be the most up to date news source, but also the most accurate and unbiased. you’ve done an amazing job and i have the utmost respect and admiration for what you have done. it would be nice to be able to put a face to your name, and i believe this story should be featured SOMEWHERE, highlighting what a great success story you have made yourself and bernews out to be. the only thing is, the place where you would get the most attention for such a story would be right here at bernews!

    fantastic job, keep it up!

  5. Sarah says:

    I agree with TD, this is the first and last place I check each day. Your post actually made me feel quite emotional for some reason. I’m proud of what you do, and grateful. Congratulations!

  6. Bernewsfan says:

    Congratulations!!! You and the rest of Bernews are doing an excellent job!!!!

  7. OMG says:

    Congrats to you Bernews…. I only just started reading on a daily basis about 6 months ago, and this is where I come when I want to know what is happening in BDA.

    Thank you for your excellent news coverage!

  8. Tiny Babbys family! says:

    Bernews Rocks! Great job well done!

  9. de Oil Shop says:

    Bernews – The Dependable News Source – CONGRADULATIONS!!!!! From a Fellow Classmate in Freshman Class of 2010

  10. Conscious Sista says:

    Great Job Patricia on following your dream and not giving in to adversity. Congrats and best wishes for your 2nd year and I’m sure many more to come!

  11. BermyGuy says:

    Hehehehehehe Congrats Pat Love you still……

  12. Tumbit says:

    Congrats Patricia, Bernews is the Bomb. As TD says its the news site to check for the latest. Best wishes on your second year.

  13. UncleElvis says:

    Well done, Pat.

    Best wishes for success in the future.

    You’ve done an amazing job. Please don’t stop.

  14. St. George says:

    Congrats & thanks!

  15. Doris says:

    Congratulations Patricia

    You & your staff do an excellent job…I look forward to reading the news & the comments daily.

  16. LaVerne Furbert says:

    I too must congratulate you Pat. Having been in the business myself as the Editor of the Bermuda Times for a period of time, I know that challenges that you face, including the all-nighters. I do believe that Bernews has filled a void in the Bermudian community.

    If more of us followed our dreams, what a different place Bermuda, and indeed the world, would be. I love it when I see young Bermudians make a positive difference in our community.

    LaVerne Furbert

  17. mixitup says:

    What an amazing story! I live by this site, frankly, I get an attitude when there is no new news posted on here..lol

    Well done, you are an inspiration!

  18. just fishin' says:

    Congratulations! A job well done!

  19. Ed says:

    Congrats and thank you for your service and for sharing how you got started.
    Bernews has been my homepage for some time.
    All the best for your future.

  20. Kevin says:

    This is a story that sorely needs to be heard right now. I found it very inspiring for my similar situation. Thank you.

  21. Nicole says:

    Pat you have done an amazing job over the past year – it’s been a pleasure to see your dream grow!

  22. 32n64w says:

    Congratulations Patricia. Best wishes and continued success to you and your team for years to come.

  23. Old School Friend says:

    Congrats Sassy

  24. Lady F says:

    Congratulations on a job well done!!!! It’s been a great year. Wishing you and the Bernews staff many great returns. Definitely the best news website in Bermuda.. It’s also great, that you welcome so many comments and news tips. Bernews should be commended as the Community website as we all feel very much a part of it. Next up – Best of Bermuda award for sure!!!!!!!!!!

  25. YoungBermudianMale says:

    Great Work Bernews. I just want to say that me and the rest of my friends age (18 – 30) must check bernews at least 3 times a day. Bernews makes being overseas in school a bit easier to keep in touch with back home. We are back and fourth (over bbm) discussing want new news we have come across. The addition of the sports sections is great. i get everything i want on one site. The 24/7 updates is perfect. why must my news stop and 7 or 8 pm? im in college, we dont sleep.

  26. Chris Gibbons says:

    I can only second what everyone else has already posted. We are proud that early on we convinced one of our clients, Bermuda Motors, to take a leap of faith and become the first advertiser on Bernews. They have never regretted it and we are delighted to have played a small part in your success. Here’s to the next year!

    Chris Gibbons
    Kaleidoscope Media Ltd.

  27. Disgust says:

    I Love BERNEWS my guilty pleasure :D great story… trials and tribulations can yield great results… Happy for you!!

  28. PEPPER says:

    You are an inspiration..all the best.

  29. steve says:

    WOW what a story and an inspiring one at that. There is hope for me yet only if I can think out of the box like that. I am getting tired working for the man and would love to do something on my own and I am in the computer field.

  30. MinorMatters says:

    Fantastic, keep up the stellar work and many thanks to all those who have supported you in the process. Posters, keep making Bernews the place where words turn into ideas, ideas into action, actions into commitment to making Bermuda a more democratic place where our views are heard and upheld.

  31. 090679 says:

    What a truly inspirational story! I’m a student in the UK, still trying to figure out what I will do when I graduate, and the story of your creation of Bernews is one that I will keep in the back of my mind as I follow my own dreams. I rely on Bernews to keep me up on the latest in Bermuda, so thank you.

  32. Clear View says:

    Congrats Bernews!!!
    Ms. Burchall, Mom and crew you have done an excellent job from the bottom up and I hope that your story has provided and will continue to provide inspiration to all.

  33. What is going on? says:

    Congratulations!…. it is the first place I look for news, and you do a wonderful job…..you are an inspiration to all!!!!

  34. SER says:

    Congratulations on an outstanding year. I look forward to what you have to offer us for the next coming years. Great story and just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Continue to provide the coverage that you do as like many have said, it’s the first and last place of each day that our paths cross.

  35. Not Suprised says:

    Congratulations BERNEWS! Thank you for bringing us the news and providing us a forum for discussion. You have done Bermuda and the world a great favour for doing what you do. YOU ROCK! :-)

  36. Congrats says:

    And, on top of all the other great things you have done, on your own and with help from seemingly wonderful people, you have made all the other media outlets step up their game! I actually remember emailing you early on as I thought your coverage of some event was a bit much, and you were kind enough to respond to me, explaining why you took the position you did regarding that particular news item. I was impressed then and I’m impressed now. This posting certainly makes me feel proud to be a Bermudian and it reminds me of why I still do love this country and its people so much. Congratulations again Ms. Burchall and may God continue to bless your all of your endeavours.

  37. navin johnson says:

    Congratulations Patricia..I echo the sentiments of many on the site that you have done an amazing job…Keep up the great work…..

  38. Wow! says:

    Excellent job! May your story inspire others to never give up hope! It’s not how hard you fall (which seems as if most of our own are just dying to see who falls first). It’s the COMEBACK that makes it so sweet within!!! BLESSINGS SISTER!!!!!

  39. Thaao Dill says:

    Congratulations on being consistently great at your job.

    The type of energy and commitment required to deliver content on a daily basis with limited resources is something most folks outside the industry just don’t get. So, thanks for getting more solid work done *way* more often than y’all really should be able to.

    Props due, definitely.

  40. Mr. Duane P. Santucci says:

    Congrdaulations are in deed the order of the day as you celebrate your first anniversary,your story of your beginnings only makes me say how great Thou art,God gave you a vision through His son Jesus Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit and that in it’s self is powerful but the greatest part of that power is your obedience to do that which was given to you,there are many great visionaries in the world today,some above ground and sad to say most underground in their graves but not all visionaries have carried out what has been given unto them,you my dear have and that is what makes you important in the eyes of so many.you have not just touch the isles of Bermuda but the entire world and that makes you a world changer,Bernews is so helpful and resourseful especially when i travel i am able to keep up with the minute by minute events both good and bad that is happening on Island and all my friends and relatives that live abroad from AFRICA TO EUROPE TO CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES,know more about what’s going on in Bermuda sometimes before the very people that are living there and all because Bernews keeps us informed,thank you again and congradulation on a job well done and still being done,may God continue to richly bless you in abundance always.

  41. Well, if there’s one thing for certain about Bernews, it’s that it’s certainly made other online news outlets step their games up. Look at RG, for example, and their recent redesign. That would NOT have happened had Bernews not gained so much popularity.

    Love your use of social media (thanks for embracing Twitter!), too, along with the live blogs and BernewsTV, all features that are miles ahead of the ‘competition’ and much-appreciated.

    Congrats, Patricia, and here’s to many more years and continued success!

    Ryan

  42. Terry says:

    Couldn’t have said it better “Wow”. Irony in those words seldom heard today.

  43. Penny says:

    Just adding my two pence worth, yes, I love to catch up with Bernews which is on the ball and which others have rightly added, has made others step up their game. My only (one and only gripe) is that i cannot log onto the Bernews web site at work as it is listed as “Adult Content” on Mimesweeper !! huh, go figure! so I have to wait till I get home before I catch up with what’s what and just read the RG on line at lunch time, knowing i’ll get the full kit ‘n Kaboodle when I get home.

    Well done Pat.

    Penny

  44. Guy says:

    Bernews is the ish! Awesome start-up story. Judging by what it is today, no one would ever guess how difficult it was to start. Thanks for not giving up. Bermuda needs media covered like it’s done here.

  45. Terry says:

    First thing I pull up is Bernews. Said that before but I do go to the RG to check and see if my name is there in the Obituaries……….funny how we have these habits…..

    Ok. Back to regular programming………

  46. EXPress says:

    Patricia, I put a Bernews link on all the computers that I work on, I have been doing this since I discovered your website last year. I also have recommended it to a lot of “transplanted” Bermudians!

    Sometimes I miss those days of going from one end of the island to the other, chasing down a breaking story and trying to get the perfect “front page” picture!

    Do not forget to enjoy some of those moments!

    Keep up the good work………..EXPress (Ex Press)

  47. Late Worker says:

    Add my congratulations to the crowd, and even more my thanks. As others have noted, this IS the news source for me. I check the papers on their websites, but I’m always finding Bernews is ahead of the pack. Wonderful!

  48. Robert Bryce says:

    Pat, Congratulations on the start up and one year anniversary. Could you comment on suggestions that your backers to which you refer above are in some way connected to a political party in Bermuda? I would hope that as Bernews was started as your vision, it has remained untainted by any perceived bias.

  49. Longtailinbda says:

    I just got chills. I am so happy and proud of your accomplishments. Bernews IS the best news source in Bermuda and I visit the site daily. Thank you for sharing your wonderful, inspiring story. Many more years of success!

  50. Inspired says:

    Reading your story has inspired me to continue to push forward no matter what obstacles life brings, and for that I want to thank you.
    I absolutely love this site! It is the most update, tech savvy site that Bermuda has and really needs. Being a student abroad I’m able to keep up with the ins and outs of what’s going on in and around the island. I’m subscribe to your RSS feed, constantly checking the website, subscribed on your YouTube channel, etc. You’ve hit the every point of technology which allows you to cater to EVERYONE needs both young and older… on top of that, you guys post content that other news sites don’t and that puts you above the bar.
    Keep up the excellent work!

  51. V says:

    Congrats Patricia! You have done an amazing, awesome job in building your website from nothing. Bernews is also my guilty pleasure!

    Keep up the great work…long live Bernews!

  52. Truth says:

    I am proud of you Patricia and I am inspired by your diligence. You all do great work and i am thankful for your vision.

  53. Just Curious says:

    PAT,
    faith Can move mountains!

  54. One Love says:

    Great story and truly a fantastic site. I can honestly say that Bernews is where I go for my news.
    Well done Patricia, well done!

  55. Cordell W. Riley says:

    When I was first given the link to go to Bernews, I became sceptical when, clicking the ‘About Us’ button, I learned more of what Bernews was not and very little of what it was. Such things may not matter to some and much to others. My view was that a ‘legitimate’ news organisation was one that “operated in the sunshine of public scrutiny” or something close to it. Thus I was in infrequent visitor. And I do recall Pat having you challenge me when I made a general comment about online news organisations. And you will recall me challenging you about responding as ‘PatricaBernews,’ almost as an endorsement of my point.

    That said, I did add Bernews to my list of news agencies and did follow some of the more interesting debates, at least until the level of debate became, well, you know… But tonight, another sombre one for Bermuda, you have ‘outed’ yourself. And in fine fashion,too. Your story is powerful and speaks to the humanity Bermudians, and those who stay with us for a while, are known for. And, as you pointed out, it speaks encouragingly to those who dream. I applaud you on your first anniversary and wish you continued success!(Now, where is that like button?)

  56. W.T.F.??? says:

    Love Bernews!
    Always FIRST in My News Reading.

    btw,cheeky question…
    did you give that $100 back?

    • bernews says:

      LOL! Do you know I forgot about that? No, never gave it back. I am, in fact, still in debt to my mom for $100.

  57. Janine Lines says:

    Well done! A great success story and as you say shows it can be done with a lot of hard work. I love Bernews and read it every morning first thing. Thank youX

  58. Marcus S,pton says:

    YOU GO GURL !!! Bernews is # 1 for me…

  59. crazytalk says:

    Yes, well done, it’s a great story to have come so far in a year.
    If you’re able to comment on the suggestions that the backers have a policital affiliation, that would, perhaps (depending on the answer) put the idea to rest. You may be aware, it is something that has been floating out there.

  60. Winnie says:

    Congrats and keep it up, however if you strive to be totally objective,when it’s time to name people in your stories and it’s a not a “can’t be named for legal reasons” thing please do so.

  61. chris says:

    yu forgot to thank all us who sit on here and cuss each other daily bringing virtual vibrance like a cyberbar to this site..also thank all the bermudians who thru no fault of thier own have become totally fed up with other local news sites..lol

  62. Lejoy Daniels says:

    Exceptional job with reporting the up-to-date news thus far. I have also heard that you all have great compassion for respecting “the victims” circumstances. When asked not to film, you simply respect their request and stand aside…this speaks volumes as you will receive respect from that alone. Keep up the good work as I continue seek and read your reports daily.

    Happy Belated Anniversary and I pray that you will have longevity!!!

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