The Pelican Press was founded in 1971 as an independently owned monthly newspaper published from Siesta Key, Florida. within a year, it became a weekly publication and circulation was expanded to areas in the greater Sarasota area.
The Pelican Press is published every Thursday as a free weekly that is placed in distribution boxes and locations located throughout the Sarasota regional community. Paid subscribers may receive mailed copies or delivery in portions of the Sarasota area. After becoming a weekly paper, it expanded to coverage of county and city government, environmental issues, and education topics. Features include a community calendar of public events; an arts calendar; film, music, art, and restaurant columns; editorials, reader opinions, and letters; as well as columns and feature stories on local people. A sister publication for local advertising, The Pelican Marketplace, is printed separately and delivered weekly to homes within a limited target area.
2008 state industry awards
Annual awards are made by the Florida Press Association,  an industry organization which was founded in 1879, and National Newspaper Placement Services (N2PS) published the following results for Pelican Press  from the Florida Press Association 2008 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest:
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place|
|In-depth reporting||Agricultural writing||General excellence|
|Original editorial cartoon||Humorous column||Editorial page|
|Photo series in one issue||Editorial|
The paper has received awards for editorial cartoons, as noted above. John Riley, a cartoonist with national stature, acknowledges that Anne Johnson, the previous editor of the paper, gave him his first opportunity to be published. Since that time his stature has grown and the paper continues to publish his editorial cartoons.