The Press Democrat
The February 28, 2012, front page of
The Press Democrat
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Sonoma Media Investments LLC
EditorJohn D'Anna, Interim Executive Editor
(as the Sonoma Democrat)
Headquarters416 B Street
Santa Rosa, California 95401
 United States 38°26′30″N 122°42′54″W / 38.441743°N 122.714944°W / 38.441743; -122.714944
Circulation20,000 Daily
25,000 Sunday
18,000 Digital Only
(as of 2023)[1]
Sister newspapersSonoma Index-Tribune, Argus-Courier
Free online (1875-1928)

The Press Democrat, with the largest circulation in California's North Bay, is a daily newspaper published in Santa Rosa, California.


The Press Democrat headquarters in Santa Rosa

The newspaper was founded in 1897 by Ernest L. Finley, who merged his Evening Press and Thomas Thompson's Sonoma Democrat (originally created as a voice for the Democratic Party). Finley bought the Santa Rosa Republican in 1927 and merged it with The Press Democrat in 1948.

Finley, his wife Ruth Woolsey Finley, daughter Ruth Finley Person, and son-in-law Evert B. Person owned and published the "PD" between 1897 and 1985. After the death of his wife in 1985, Evert Person sold the paper to The New York Times Company.

The most popular feature in The Press Democrat for many years was Gaye LeBaron's community column, according to a readership survey. LeBaron produced more than 8,000 columns between 1961 and her semi-retirement in 2001, writing on human interest, cultural events, ethnic history and local politics.[2][3]

Along with The Press Democrat, The New York Times Company bought the North Bay Business Journal and the Petaluma Argus-Courier; all were acquired by Halifax Media Group in January 2012. Less than a year later, in November 2012, Halifax resold its California papers to a local ownership group, Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, which included former congressman Douglas H. Bosco,[4] Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz, and Norma Betz Person, widow of The Press Democrat's former publisher Evert Person.[5]

In 2019, Sonoma Media Investments acquired the Sonoma County Gazette of Forestville, a monthly newspaper.[6]

Awards and honors

The Press Democrat's staff was the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for "[f]or lucid and tenacious coverage of historic wildfires that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County."[7] Former staff photographer Annie Wells also won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography "for her dramatic photograph of a local firefighter rescuing a teenager from raging floodwaters."[8]

The newspaper was also the 2004 recipient of the George Polk Award for Regional Reporting,[9] given annually by Long Island University to honor contributions to journalistic integrity and investigative reporting.


  1. ^ "Audit Bureau of Circulation". Audit Bureau of Circulation's eCirc numbers for figures reported 3/31/2007. Retrieved July 9, 2007.
  2. ^ Tesconi, Tim (18 March 2001). "Voice of the Community". The Press Democrat. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  3. ^ Silverstein, Louis (1990). Newspaper Design for The Times. Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 260. ISBN 0442283210.
  4. ^ "Local group to buy The Press Democrat, affiliated publications". 1 November 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  5. ^ "It's official: Press Democrat sold to local group". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Press Democrat owner adds to media holdings, acquiring monthly hyperlocal publication". The North Bay Business Journal. 2019-12-30. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  7. ^ Pulitzer Prizes. "Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. ^ Pulitzer Prizes. "Pulitzer Prize". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  9. ^ "George Polk Awards for Journalism press release". Long Island University. Retrieved November 22, 2006.