Sonoma Media Investments launches new division

Sonoma Media Investments, the owner of The Press Democrat and four other North Bay publications, has launched a new weekly newspaper division to be led by Petaluma Argus-Courier Publisher John Burns.

As part of the change, Burns also will become publisher of the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

Sonoma Media Investments created the new division partly due to an interest in expanding its weekly newspapers, either by acquisition or by launching new publications, CEO Steve Falk said Monday.

But the division also will ensure the weekly papers have the resources they need to succeed, Falk said. He likened it to last summer's creation of a magazine division to oversee the growth of Sonoma magazine.

"I just think we have a higher likelihood of success by having dedicated folks looking after those products," Falk said.

Burns, the outgoing president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, said he's looking forward to providing news to two communities with "very engaged audiences."

"I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the Sonoma community," he said of his initial plans. He intends to listen to readers and business people there for their feedback on local news coverage.

Burn also will explore whether collaboration between the two weeklies could prove mutually beneficial.

"It there's any way we can help out one another, we're going to take a look at that," he said.

Burns has worked in the newspaper industry for three decades, including 15 years at the Argus-Courier. He previously served as publisher of the Novato Advance and editor and general manager of the Sebastopol Times and News.

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