Nonprofits

Campaign funding and reader trust

We want our readers, our community to know we are being fair.

BenitoLink does not accept political advertising. Why not? To be honest, when you have a modest but growing newsroom, it is tempting. We could use the money. 

But as a nonprofit news organization, we have a higher goal: to be trusted.

We do not want to show favoritism or push for a specific candidate. We want our readers, our community to know we are being fair, especially during elections. So, we decline political funding, which can be quite substantial, and hope that our readers will help make up the difference through individual donations.

We can’t be your trusted news source if we are willing to promote someone or something because they are paying us. This means we also have to maintain a professional relationship with our sponsors. Most of the time it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Sad to say, BenitoLink has lost sponsorships because we were unwilling to take a position—their position—on a local political issue. That’s the Quid Pro Quo way of doing business: I scratch your back, you scratch mine. When BenitoLink was formed, we decided against accepting political funding.  Thankfully, BenitoLink has survived 10 years and we have held a clear line when it comes to this kind of financial influence.

Sponsorships are also an important funding source because they help provide financial stability for expenses like staffing. When we take on sponsors, we always let business owners know from day-one that we must control all BenitoLink editorial decisions.  

We recognize we will lose sponsors here and there, if we can’t come to an agreement. It happens. Over the past 10 years we have been able to develop good working relationships with a collection of reputable, high-performing local businesses and regional companies.

Political campaigns are a whole different matter and it is often worthwhile to avoid even the appearance of influence. Elected office is a position of leadership and power. When you read the paper, go online or listen to the radio, pay attention to where the funding comes from. What choices did they make when it comes to gaining public trust?

We hope you appreciate that we stay true to you and avoid unfair influence. Please support BenitoLink, journalism powered by you and help us keep those in power accountable.

 

Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.