A statement about The Press Democrat’s handling of the Dominic Foppoli story

There is no excuse for our failure to not push harder; to not dig deeper.|

Dear Press Democrat readers: This is Richard Green, editor of our newsroom and chief content officer at Sonoma Media Investments, our parent company.

I have been editor here for about six weeks and obviously have been monitoring your comments related to this Dominic Foppoli scandal. I felt it was important for me to share some thoughts.

First off, I am so proud of this news organization’s longstanding commitment to readers like you and to our community – from our Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the tragic wildfires to raising more than $30 million for those who lost homes and precious possessions during the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Nothing is more important to us than defending the First Amendment and delivering revelatory content that holds our most powerful to account while protecting Northern California’s most vulnerable.

On the heels of Thursday’s blockbuster report about Foppoli, it is clear there was a failure in our organization to hit those important goals, and for that, we deeply apologize.

Two years ago, when a reporter shared a tip involving allegations of sexual assaults against at least two women by Foppoli, a prominent entrepreneur and aspiring politician, editors failed to follow through and pursue the story. We failed our loyal readers and Windsor voters and residents. Even more important, our decision to not thoroughly investigate these women’s accounts about alleged incidents involving Foppoli may have caused more personal heartache, humiliation and physical and emotional harm for other women. That is unacceptable. We had a responsibility to take these allegations seriously, and there is no excuse for our failure to not push harder; to not dig deeper.

This nation has seen a national reckoning surrounding sexual assault and violence against women. Yes, it goes beyond the #MeToo movement. We all have learned sexual assault is rarely a black-and-white issue. We know it is often shrouded in uncertainty for a number of reasons. But a top-notch media organization like The Press Democrat needs to press forward and work diligently to distill facts and determine the truth. We needed a newsroom leader to champion the story. That did not happen in 2019.

Put simply: It was botched.

And that will never happen again.

In my short tenure here, we’ve launched a Newsroom reorganization that will strengthen our pursuit of powerful investigative journalism. We’ve hired two new editors and freed up editing resources to focus more attention to hard-hitting watchdog stories and the writers pursuing those stories. We will be hiring additional investigative journalists, and I will personally be involved in our biggest and most important work.

Our handling of the Foppoli story two years ago runs counter to our unflinching commitment to holding powerful individuals accountable for their actions. And on behalf of our entire leadership team, we again apologize. Our credibility is everything. For more than 160 years, The Press Democrat has proudly chronicled life in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and Northern California – at times of great joy and tremendous tragedy. We will continue that mission, but with an even deeper commitment to fair and assertive investigative journalism and thorough coverage of the communities we serve. I promise we will do better.

Thank you for your support of our Newsroom.

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