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Investigative Columnist

Job Summary

At a time when many news organizations are freezing salaries or jettisoning jobs, The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, has a different strategy: We’re expanding our staff. Specifically, we are recruiting for a NEW INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING TEAM that will work with our Newsroom's current enterprise/watchdog writers to strengthen our commitment to "Big J" public service journalism and better serve our subscribers and readers.

One of our new positions is an INVESTIGATIVE COLUMNIST, someone who can help residents, businesses and taxpayers of Northern California get answers and accountability from public agencies, public officials, nonprofits, regional companies and the criminal justice system. We are seeking an experienced investigative reporter AND writer who is familiar with public records, navigating bureaucratic systems and governments and has a solid understanding of business issues.

We want you to be the person that people who have problems they cannot solve contact. You’ll be responsible for the reporting and production of an investigative column that is a new way to connect and serve our readers. You’ll be the watchdog writer to help everyone from taxpayers to consumers when they have hit a dead end with a problem or don’t know where to turn for solutions.

You must be as comfortable dealing with readers as you are with obstinate sources and complex public records. This is a highly engaged investigative position where you’re producing a column intended to help on a wide range of topics – from crooked contractors and bureaucrats who offer the runaround to public agencies not doing their job.

We want to bring a fresh eye to the issues that dominate the daily life in Sonoma County. This position offers great flexibility on the issues and topics we cover, including public agencies whose missions intersect with local companies, consumers and commerce.

We believe investigative journalism is essential to the long-term sustainability of media organizations like ours. Success means a steady flow of sophisticated, hard-edged journalism told in a conversational way that directly affects the consumers, companies, employees, suppliers, taxpayers and constituents of Sonoma County and Northern California.

The Press Democrat is the flagship Newsroom of Sonoma Media Investments and the largest news organization between San Francisco and the Oregon border. We have a proud tradition of aggressively covering breaking news and delivering high-end, award-winning enterprise reporting, with an emphasis on strong beat coverage and public service reporting that holds governments accountable to taxpayers. In fact, we won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting; further indication that we swarm news as it happens.

You must be a self-starter and intellectually curious, ready to do some of the best work of your career here at The Press Democrat. You also will get the opportunity to collaborate with other members of our Newsroom team on important community issues while also holding local officials and government agencies accountable.

Candidates must bring a deep portfolio of ambitious work that defends the First Amendment. We’ll be looking for compelling stories that resonate with readers. Click on the link for this position and also send a letter of interest and resume to our new editor at

There are lots of reasons to consider this opportunity. The Press Democrat is a financially strong, locally owned news organization that values original ideas, aggressive reporting, authoritative writing and watchdog coverage that leads to change. We are privately held by Sonoma County-based investors. We are a debt-free organization that is weighing further acquisitions + expansion.

The ideal candidate will have strong multimedia skills, including the use of a smartphone to produce photos and videos, and must be adept in use of social media for news gathering and audience engagement.

Data acquisition, analysis and presentation skills are a plus, as is fluency in Spanish.

We value collaboration, honest conversations about Newsroom culture and diversity and pathways to greater professional and personal development. Our editors are committed to one-on-one coaching and staff development. Our desire is to be the best news organization of our size in the country -- and that only can happen with the recruitment AND retention of highly talented journalists.

We're seeking someone who must:

Be skilled at reporting, writing and growing your digital audience through social media.
Be comfortable writing on a wide range of issues.
Have a proven track record of generating story ideas and delivering high-impact enterprise work.
Develop and maintain relationships with public figures, officials and individuals across our county and in Sacramento.
Be able to shoot production-quality photographs and videos.
Have strong knowledge of AP style and be able to write and edit stories for grammar, spelling, content and libel.
Excel in social media proficiency.
Respond to emails, texts and voicemails in a timely manner.

The Press Democrat offers an opportunity to grow your career at our award-winning family of publications at Sonoma Media Investments, with opportunities to contribute to our daily newspaper, website and regional magazine. All have been recognized as among the best in their respective categories, one of the reasons our news products enjoy some of the highest readership rates in California.

This position is based in Sacramento, but you’ll likely also spend time in Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco, where vineyards give way to redwood forests and a scenic Pacific Ocean coastline. The region, home to 500,000 people, is an international destination for tourists and produces some of the best wine, food and beer on the planet. Two colleges, along with thriving tech, farm and government sectors make this region of diverse communities an exciting and dynamic place to be a reporter.

The Press Democrat offers a competitive compensation plan, including medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits, accident insurance and paid time off. We are committed to a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. Any job offer is conditional upon completion of a background investigation and pre-employment drug testing. This reporting position requires a valid California driver’s license, proof of insurance and reliable transportation.

So, are you the ideal candidate? To be considered, send us:

Your updated resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
A cover letter that outlines how you would approach the job.
Links to 3-6 online samples of your work. Show us what you’ve written, produced, or had a hand in that best reflects your writing skills and your best examples of watchdog/enterprise work.

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement: SMI is committed to creating a safe work environment for all employees, independent contractors, vendors and guests. All employees are required to submit proof of a COVID-19 vaccine and be subject to booster shots as recommended by the CDC. Medical reasons for not being vaccinated and religious objections will be carefully reviewed to determine if an accommodation can be made.

Sonoma Media Investments is an Equal Opportunity Employer


Organization: The Press Democrat
Location: Santa Rosa CA US
Date Posted: September 17, 2021
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