9 reasons to support local your local nonprofit news: Reason 4

Those of us at BenitoLink have tried hard to build reader trust and we are very appreciative of the connection we have with our community. Because we work and live here, we learn about important grassroots-type stories from our friends and neighbors. Donating to BenitoLink during this fall fund drive is another way of showing your approval for the public service journalism our local team produces for San Benito County residents.

“Locals reporting on local matters,” refers to small, hyperlocal reporting teams like ours that are more familiar with the geographical location, the cultural and historical background of the coverage area than reporters working for large news companies. Most BenitoLink reporters live in San Benito County and have a first-hand knowledge of the community and people they cover. We’re not saying that in the future all our reporters would have to reside in county, but we value those who do highly. Your donation allows BenitoLink to keep these desirable reporters here in our county and not let their unique knowledge and relationships slip away.

Here’s a chance to get to know three of them a little better:

Robert Eliason- BenitoLink Reporter/Photographer: Features, BL In-Depth and BL Longform articles

“About six and a half years ago, I was approached by South Valley Media and who had admired the photographs I had taken for El Teatro Campesino. I began shooting features and sports, in 2015 with a lacrosse game, which was a challenge. I had never seen lacrosse played before and had no idea what was going on!

I started writing 2019, when BenitoLink needed to cover a protest march and did not have a reporter available. Although I came into reporting through photography, I had attended advanced English classes in high school followed by four years at UC Berkeley specializing in Shakespeare and English Renaissance writers. I also had done post-graduate work at San Francisco State.

So, after the first assignment, BenitoLink asked me if I had any other story ideas to share. I have just published my 300th article for BenitoLink and find myself in the odd position of being read regularly and having a small following. The idea that the community is responding to the work I am doing is immensely satisfying.”

Noe Magaña– BenitoLink Content Manager and Reporter: News, Features, BL Special Reports

BenitoLink Content Manager and Reporter, Noe Magaña playing soccer for SBHS against Gilroy High in 2008. Photo provided.
BenitoLink Content Manager and Reporter, Noe Magaña playing soccer for SBHS against Gilroy High in 2008. Photo provided.

“I played soccer throughout my years at San Benito High School. So, I got into journalism because I was interested in covering sports.

I wouldn’t say that my interest changed after attending college and getting a journalism degree, but afterward my interests definitely have expanded.

Since I joined BenitoLink as an intern four years ago and began reporting, I have learned so much about the county. For starters, I’ve driven on the backroads that I never knew existed.

I’ve also learned about local government, issues each jurisdiction is dealing with and I’ve become more familiar with planning and zoning.

I realized, after being pushed out of my comfort zone, how important it is to hold institutions accountable and how residents depend on in-depth, reliable news to be informed and involved in their community.”

Jenny Mendolla Arbizu- BenitoLink Reporter/Photographer: News/Features

“I didn’t choose to become a reporter; it chose me. And I’m pretty dang glad it did. I knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. But writer of what, I could never decide…

At the age of 9 years old, I received my first diary as a gift. It was a life-changer. Writing became daily therapy for me; a place where a once timid, reserved and reflective child, then teenager, could share her day and trials.

In the 90s, San Benito High School still had a journalism program. BenitoLink reporter Jenny Arbizuis pictured here fourth from the left in the top row. Photo provided.
In the 90s, San Benito High School still had a strong journalism program. BenitoLink reporter Jenny Mendolla Arbizu is pictured here fourth from the left in the top row. Photo provided.

During my junior and senior years of high school, I was on the yearbook and newspaper staff. “The Baler” was my first taste of being in a newsroom. Sharing thoughts, opinions, and ideas across the tables of big computers was a glorious experience.

I received my teaching credential and Masters in Elementary Education. Turns out… I loved learning about the art of teaching, but the act itself? Not so much. I love children, but the many facets that come with teaching were just one too many for me.

While taking time away from working to be home with my young son, a friend told me that a local newspaper was looking for freelance writers. That is how it all started. My interest grew into regularly writing cover articles.

Now, I am a part of the BenitoLink reporting team. We talk about what is going on in San Benito County every week. Not nearby counties; San Benito County.

Meaty news stories become even more urgent to get out when you know it’s affecting a friend or your community. When downtown Hollister was vandalized and flower baskets were broken, I ran downtown as quickly as I could to find out what happened and to get the news out to my community. It was as important to me as I knew it would be for others.

I am local. We are local. Our office is in downtown Hollister. BenitoLink loves San Benito County because we are part of San Benito County, too.”

Our reporters, who are involved and familiar with the county, are a very valuable BenitoLink asset. Support our local, engaged journalists by donating to BenitoLink and taking advantage of our amazing $40,000 matching opportunity. This support from San Benito residents Randy and Rebecca Wolf, Sallie Calhoun and Matt Christiano and the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) means we can double your donation until Dec. 31. Don’t miss your chance to keep this committed team reporting for you.