The Union Democrat, established in 1854, is the Mother Lode’s leading information source. The newspaper’s history began with the California gold rush in the Central Sierra Foothills. Published Tuesday through Saturday in Sonora, The Union Democrat reaches more than 25,000 readers each day. The newspaper’s website, Uniondemocrat.com, averages 420,000 page views per month. The newspaper workforce consists of 53 employees.
The newspaper’s main office is located in the heart of Sonora’s downtown historic district at 84 South Washington Street. The news staff, business, advertising and administrative employees work out of this two-story structure – a former bank building constructed in 1913.
A new $2.2 million dollar printing and distribution facility was completed in October 2007. Located three miles southeast of Sonora off Tuolumne Road, this building houses a 10-unit Goss Community Press, a Kansa high-speed inserting machine and a state-of-the-art Kodak “computer-to-plate” imaging system. The press crew, packaging team and circulation department work at this facility. More than 25 motor route carriers load up their newspapers at this facility in advance of delivering copies to subscribers.
The Union Democrat is recognized as the dominant news and advertising source in the Mother Lode region – encompassing Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. The newspaper is also proud of its commitment to and participation in its community. Donations are provided annually to over 150 local fundraisers, non-profits, service clubs and organizations. Some of the sponsorships, support and memberships include: Five local Chambers of Commerce, South Tuolumne County Historical Society, Sierra Senior Services, Meals on Wheels, Sierra Repertory Theater, Stage 3 Theater, Murphys Creek Theater, Columbia Fly-In, Habitat for Humanity, Vietnam Veterans, Operation M.O.M. (Mothers of Military), Crisis Line, Local Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Elks Clubs, Humane Society, Sober Graduation, ICES Children’s Fair, Mother Lode Ombudsman, Tuolumne Me-Wuk Tribal Education program, and support of area high school sports and academic programs.
The management team at the newspaper includes Kari Borgen, interim publisher; Lyn Riddle, editor; Peggy Pietrowicz, advertising manager; Yochanan Quillen, Operations Manager; Sharon Sharp, Circulation Manager; Derek Rosen, Information Systems Manager; Lynne Fernandez, Business Office Manager.
The newspaper has developed an excellent Newspaper in Education (NIE) program with the help of local businesses and community partners. More than 950 local students in 40 classrooms receive copies of the newspaper to study current events and other topics. Sharon Sharp, the NIE coordinator, can be reached at 209-533-3614.
The Union Democrat is owned by Western Communications, Inc., a family-owned company based in Bend, Oregon. In addition to publishing The Union Democrat in Sonora and The Bulletin in Bend, the company owns newspapers in Crescent City, California, and Baker City, Brookings, La Grande and Redmond, Oregon.