Thanks to the help and support of our readers, contributors, sponsors and donors, BenitoLink has grown to serve the community better every year.
Launched in 2012 through Vision San Benito, a two-year visioning process that took input from nearly 1,000 San Benito County residents, our nonprofit news organization brings you daily content including thorough election coverage, in-depth investigative reporting, regular reporting on local government meetings, and features on the people and businesses in our community.
BenitoLink publishes opinions, columns, articles and calendar events that come directly from the grassroots of the community. This content is original and highly valued. Still, the primary source of information for our readers comes from the work of our professional journalism staff.
We would like to take the time introduce you to some new staff members, while reminding you about the team members who have consistently produced content over the years.
Writer, editor, and journalist Nicholas Preciado joined the BenitoLink team earlier this year. He previously worked as a reporter at the Hollister Free Lance, Gilroy Dispatch, and Morgan Hill Times newspapers and has covered issues in San Benito County extensively for the last couple years. He graduated from Humboldt State University in 2013 with a B.A. in English Writing Practices and a minor in journalism.
Preciado stepped into the role of Content Manager in April and currently oversees news releases, emails, phone calls and articles that come in, goes through the Monday story meeting with reporters, publishes and keeps a finger on the pulse of the region to stay up-to-date on what's happening. Our content manager and executive director also read, review and manage the growing community content that flows into the site daily.
"San Benito County as a whole is in transition, and as the community continues to grow, so will the need for informed, nonpartisan news," Preciado said.
Along with Preciado's hire, reporter Laura Romero has moved over to into her new role as Marketing and Administration Coordinator. Romero has worked with BenitoLink since 2015, when she was reporting on education and local politics. Prior to joining BenitoLink, Romero worked in marketing and social media in San Francisco.
"Seeing what goes on behind the scenes seemed a little daunting," Romero said. But she quickly adjusted and has taken on a wide range of work that helps make BenitoLink a household name in San Benito County. "Every day is different, but it’s all part of the fun."
In her new role, Romero assists with graphic design, newsletter creation, sales, social media, and fundraising. Romero handles our popular weekly email-newsletter. (Subscribe, if you haven't already!) She helped bring in $38,000 last December through our giving campaign “Pledge of Champions.”
We are also excited to announce that we have brought two interns to the BenitoLink team: Noe Magaña and Diviana Navarro. This opportunity is funded partially by United Way of San Benito County and the Emma Bowen Foundation.
Magaña, Hollister native and a student at San Jose State University, previously worked at his school newspaper, the Spartan Daily. He currently assists with daily news coverage, sports, and San Juan Bautista City Council meetings.
"I knew BenitoLink was a great place to intern because it's in my community and I'm genuinely interested in everything that occurs here," Magaña said. "With five weeks under my belt and with how welcoming the staff has been, I'm grateful they've invited me to learn from them."
Navarro, a Castroville native and student at Santa Clara University, comes to us through the Emma Bowen Foundation. The foundation “recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation's leading media, PR, and technology companies,” as explained on the Emma Bowen website.
Navarro assists with producing daily news content, features, and social media.
“I am passionate about accurate representation and story-telling through different forms of media,” Navarro said. “Having been born and raised in the Central Coast to a family of immigrants, the ingredients that make up my identity allow me to bring a new perspective into the work that I do. “
BenitoLink has also hired veteran copy editor Paul Hersh. He is an accomplished copy editor who worked for the Monterey County Herald for over 15 years. Hersh oversees writing training and reviews all staff writers and works directly with interns and new freelance writers.
One of our new freelance reporters is Carmel De Bertaut. De Bertaut is currently writing on the natural history of San Benito County, local political issues, and features on people in San Benito County.
Staff reporters Blaire Strohn, Becky Bonner, Frank Perez, and John Chadwell continue to work for BenitoLink, while Lisa Robinson, Elliot Ruiz, and Joshua Miller contribute work as photographers.
Strohn reports on agriculture, ranching, livestock, San Benito lifestyle, and all issues concerning South County. She is a San Benito native who grew up in Paicines on a cow/calf ranch operation. Strohn just graduated from California State University Fresno with a Bachelor's in agriculture communications. She is currently attending Oklahoma State University focusing on international agriculture.
"I joined the BenitoLink team because I want part of organization to give a voice to the south county community," Strohn said. "I want to be able to tell stories that often go unheard of."
Bonner writes primarily features, focusing on interesting people and activities around San Benito County. She is a teacher at San Benito High School and coaches of the girls soccer team.
Perez reports on San Benito County history and culture. He is a lifelong county resident and a San Benito High School teacher in world history and Mexican-American history.
“My passion is delving deeper into the nuances of the local, historical record, while including lesser-known stories of our past,” Perez writes in his BenitoLink bio. “My hope is that county residents will have a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of San Benito County, realizing that its uniqueness depends upon our responsibility as its stewards.”
John Chadwell reports on local news, government meetings, features, and profiles. He is an accomplished freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist.
Leslie David is Benitolink's Executive Director. David started with BenitoLink in its formative years as a foundation board member. She reports on occasion but primarily oversees both the publishing and the financial side of BenitoLink.
BenitoLink currently seeks reporters with research and investigative experience. Please contact Leslie David (email@example.com), if you have an interest and experience in this area of writing. BenitoLink will continue with its Junior Journalism Program, which is supported in part by United Way of San Benito County.
The BenitoLink Board of Directors are: Board President Rohit Sharma, Vice-President Karminder Brown, Treasurer Robert Marden and Secretary Lois Locci. The board and executive director have recently developed "Open Editorial" which invites a mix of community members to open discussion of current events, neighborhood issues and welcomes Benitolink feedback. If you have interest in getting to know BenitoLink better as a potential volunteer, committee member, reporter/photographer, community contributor or board member, please contact Leslie David firstname.lastname@example.org or Rohit Sharma email@example.com.
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