Urban or Rural, Local News Fights On

Community news start-ups like BenitoLink are gaining credibility as they keep hometowns informed

You've probably heard that community news providers have an uphill battle these days.

But it's not all gloom and doom. BenitoLink board member Leslie David just returned from a summit for news biz "little guys" held in Chicago.

The good news is that there are lots of small community start-ups like BenitoLink helping their towns and counties keep up with what is happening and understand why it matters. BenitoLink was a project of the Community Foundation for San Benito County (CFFSBC). After getting interviews with diverse community members, lack of a dependable source of news and information was found to be one of the top concerns in our county.  After several years of growth and thanks to the support from the Knight Foundation and our county's  Community Foundation, BenitoLink has recently filed for a 501c3 designation as a non-profit organization.

This weekend's conference in Chicago was hosted by LION or Local Independent Online News. The group has grown each year with more journalists and entrepreneurs willing to take on the challenge. Classes were held all day sharing the wide variety of innovative ideas being developed along with several learned-the-hard way testimonies.

The variety of independent websites was astonishing — from one couple's site that is covering the loss of small shops in their Manhattan neighborhood  to a larger-than-life character who's website cheers on football and advertises guns on special in San Angelo, Texas. With so many large media investors today with very little personal connection to the community, it is uplifting to see so many doing it on their own, and in their own way.

The overall takeaway was excitement about a new but expanding industry that is rolling with the punches and helping their hometowns stay informed.




BenitoLink Staff