A veteran journalist who led his Kentucky newsroom to a 2020 Pulitzer Prize has been hired as the new executive editor of The Press Democrat and chief content officer of its parent company, Sonoma Media Investments (SMI), company officials announced Thursday.
Richard A. Green, an Ohio native whose journalism career started as a high school sophomore, was introduced as The Press Democrat's executive editor, succeeding Cathy Barnett who retired in December after a 44-year career.
Green will assume a broader and more strategic role as chief content officer, working with the staffs and story plans at all properties owned by SMI, the independent, locally owned multimedia company based in Santa Rosa. SMI products include The Press Democrat, The Sonoma Index-Tribune, Petaluma Argus-Courier, The North Bay Business Journal, The Sonoma County Gazette, Sonoma Magazine and La Prensa Sonoma along with the companion websites and several newsletters.
"I am incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity to work with the talented and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists at The Press Democrat and across the Sonoma Media Investments family," said Green, who, until December, was editor at The Courier Journal in Louisville. "I come to Sonoma County with a passion for memorable storytelling and revelatory watchdog reporting that puts our readers first, however they may find and read our content.
"I spent seven years as a top editor in Palm Springs, and I am very excited to return to California and to spearhead our efforts to deliver fair and fearless journalism to this beautiful corner of the state. This is a sophisticated and plugged-in community that cares about news close to home and the biggest stories from Sacramento to Washington. I can't wait to get started.”
Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments made the announcement to employees. “I am thrilled to welcome Rick Green to our publications and to our community. He is recognized across the country as a distinguished editor and publisher and has improved the quality of every newspaper at which he worked.”
Darius Anderson, majority owner of Sonoma Media Investments said, “Replacing someone with Cathy Barnett’s talent and long standing involvement in our community was difficult. We have an amazingly talented award winning staff and Rick Green is committed to taking our journalism of distinction to the next level while enhancing our investigative journalism. We are optimistic and excited about our future.”
Green, 55, spent nearly 34 years with the Gannett Co., owner of USA Today and about 260 other news sites across the country. He has served as a reporter, bureau chief, assignment editor, top editor and president and publisher in Gannett operations coast-to-coast. His stops include his hometown Coshocton Tribune in east-central Ohio, the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette, the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, The Des Moines Register in Iowa, The Record and northjersey.com in Bergen County, New Jersey; and The Courier Journal in Louisville. He is well known for his inclusive communication style, staff training and development with a strong emphasis on diversity.
His Louisville newsroom received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its unrelenting coverage of more than 600 pardons and commutations that former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued in December 2019 during his final hours in office.
Pulitzer judges lauded The Courier Journal's investigative work that showed how Bevin's actions were "marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms."
The Louisville newspaper beat The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post in the breaking news category.
The Press Democrat was awarded a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for its breathless coverage of the wildfires that ravaged parts of Sonoma County.
In coming to The Press Democrat and Sonoma Media, Green said his objective is simple: "We will be the best news organization of our size in the country."
"I've been blessed with amazing teams and talented newsrooms in some of the most competitive markets in the nation. We will do the same here," Green said. "Cathy Barnett was a phenomenal journalist and leader, and I intend to build on the momentum she leaves behind with this experienced, passionate team. That means I'll work hard as a hands-on coach and mentor for our staff and as a thoughtful, attentive listener in the community."
Green said he's eager to work in a growth market for a media company with potential expansion that is "unencumbered by debt and is not beholden to the demands of Wall Street and hedge funds."
"After taking a December buyout from Gannett, I wanted to work for a news organization with a proven track record for stellar journalism, built on a strong financial footing, with visionary leadership from owners committed to the community and a collective hunger to elevate the quality of its content," he said. "I'm confident this is a terrific fit."
Green completed his journalism studies in 1987 at the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University and will start his new job the week of
Rick is married to Laura Lydon, a Kentucky native, and they have four children: Abigail, a 27-year-old in Columbus, Ohio; Elizabeth, 24, who works in Louisville; Katy, a 21-year-old senior at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia; and Benjamin, a high school senior who graduates in May.