Features

Persistent journalism has an impact

Community support for "public news" or nonprofit news allows your BenitoLink reporters to cover the subjects that matter to you.

Most readers of local and national news are aware that investigative reporting can influence lawmakers by revealing a problem and encouraging change. Despite our small team, BenitoLink takes on investigative and in-depth reporting as often as we can. This kind of journalism takes extraordinary time and attention to detail, and we are proud that we haven’t shied away from the challenge. Investigative reporting is expensive to produce and requires legal protection. Strong community support means we can continue to do this kind of work. Help us take advantage of a $40,000 match opportunity from Institute for Nonprofit News, which is supporting nonprofit newsrooms like ours all over the country and local donors who believe local news is essential to our community.

Routine rural county news reporting can be less glamorous but still bring results. Instead of making a big splash, sometimes it’s more like a steady drip that causes annoyance and eventually, because of consistent attention to an issue, changes are made. It can take years of day to day reporting on a specific topic to see improvements finally happen. Each of the articles meant a reporter attended meetings, made phone calls, and researched the topic before writing the story. So hours of work go into every story and in some cases five, 10 or 15 stories were written before the situation is ever addressed. Your donations, whether one time or monthly, allow us to stay on track and stick with a story.

Take for example, the continued closure of San Justo Reservoir, a large, publicly owned recreational space that has been inaccessible to San Benito residents for over 15 years due to the presence of the zebra mussel. BenitoLink started reporting on the reservoir in 2014.

Here are a few examples of articles we have run on the topic:

10/23/21 Fishermen losing hope of fishing at San Justo Reservoir Again

3/9/16  San Justo Reservoir may not open for years if ever, officials say 

3/9/16 COMMENTARY: Prediction- San Justo will never reopen for water recreation

3/4/16  Protest to Reopen San Justo Reservoir Gains Political Citizen Support 

2/19/16  Mayor Implies Civil Disobedience May be Necessary to Reopen San Justo Reservoir 

1/19/15  Seven Years Later, San Justo Reservoir Still in Limbo 

9/14/14 Two Candidates compete to represent San Benito County Supervisorial District 4

During the summer of 2021, we got a phone call from a woman whose elderly husband had spent years fishing at San Justo and enjoying the outdoors. She said, “He doesn’t get out as much and it makes me so sad to think he may never be able to fish there again.” When we asked for an interview on the subject, both declined. We called people we knew who liked to fish and eventually found a few who were willing to go on the record.

So, in the article we told about the personal connection residents have to the place and their fond memories. Reporter Jenny Mendolla Arbizu shared the perspective of a 16-year-old resident. She wrote:

The reservoir closing “definitely had an effect on fishing,” Herbst said. “Because it is closed, there’s not really anything to do here. And that drives people to go out to the reservoir in Los Banos.”

Last month, Congressman Jimmy Panetta shared Jenny Mendolla Arbizu’s BenitoLink article, ‘Fishermen Losing Hope of Fishing at San Justo Reservoir Again’ on his Facebook page. He told his followers that he was dedicated to making this property available to the community once again. He even said he was pushing for funding to eradicate the zebra mussel in the current infrastructure funding. Our reporting gave Panetta a way of pushing the point a little harder.

 

Congressman Panetta's Facebook Page showing BenitoLink's report on Rancho San Justo Reservoir. Screen Shot
Congressman Panetta’s Facebook Page showing BenitoLink’s report on Rancho San Justo Reservoir. Screen Shot

 

Without BenitoLink’s ongoing, dogged reporting, San Justo Reservoir would drop off the agencies’ radar. Years would pass with no kids learning how to fish with their grandfather, no dog walking, hikes or family picnics on this spacious but convenient property.

Without locally produced journalism, topics like San Justo Reservoir would just fade away. It takes reporter commitment like Jenny’s and a shared interest in these quality-of-life issues that only a local would stick with. As a nonprofit, our reporting on ongoing, long running topics relies on the generosity of our supporters.

Thank you for supporting BenitoLink, San Benito’s own nonprofit journalism.

Leslie David, BenitoLink Executive Director

 

 

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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.