Stronger Together: the key to successful local news

Your support of BenitoLink can make a huge difference when it comes to how many stories a day we can cover and how deep we can go with our reporting.

This article was written by BenitoLink Executive Director Leslie David.

As BenitoLink’s executive director, I thought I would take a moment as we start our spring fundraising campaign, ‘Stronger Together,’ to explain what makes nonprofit, community-based news so unique and worthy of your financial support.

First, it’s important to understand that this community’s local nonprofit news is all ours. It was a dream expressed almost a decade ago by hundreds of San Benito county residents during listening sessions organized by the Community Foundation for San Benito County. Having watched local papers change hands and struggle, residents decided to take action and create their own news website, BenitoLink.

Structured as a nonprofit, BenitoLink will never move out of San Benito County or be sold. It’s a community project that is here to serve our needs and fulfill our expectations. This is why, as residents who appreciate solid information, all of us need to get involved. With around 60,000 unique visitors or readers a month, the BenitoLink team needs a steady budget so we can focus on the issues of the day and continue keep readers informed.

We are not alone. All over America small communities like ours are creating their own news organizations. The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News (LION) and the Knight Foundation are behind us in this endeavor. These national and many other smaller organizations are re-building local news from the ground up, offering ethical and professional guidance and providing a sizable match each fall for our Pledge of Champions.

As a community, we all need to donate, even $10 or $20, so the things we really want—in-depth reporting and consistent coverage of government and schools—are a sure thing. We want positive articles that celebrate the great individuals, businesses, events and projects that happen in our region. Finally, we need investigative reporting to keep the powerful accountable fairly and accurately, but also persistently. BenitoLink reporters who produce this work deserve to feel secure in their jobs and not worry from year to year.

San Benito residents are fortunate to have a website that looks a lot like the community it serves. Our reporters are reminded to be open to all perspectives and not impose their own views in their news articles. BenitoLink’s door is open, and we listen respectfully when readers feel we made a mistake. BenitoLink team members know that admitting to errors—and correcting them—builds trust with readers.

Local, citizen-driven news requires community effort, but it also allows us to have the kind of reporting, election forums, community gatherings and innovative projects we have always wanted. Your donations can be impactful in reaching these goals. With hundreds of residents getting involved through donations, we have built a news organization that is made up of its readers and accountable to them.

Everyone’s invited! But to reach our goals, we need you to pitch in on the level you can afford.

Nonprofit, resident-based news allows us to be actively involved, working together to build a dedicated and tight-knit community. By committing to the important and essential need of dependable information, we are stronger together. Support BenitoLink, San Benito’s very own homegrown news.


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.