Recorder executive editor says he was fired over pay equity advocacy

For The Recorder
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Jeffrey Good, the executive editor for the Greenfield Recorder and Daily Hampshire Gazette, has been removed from his role, according to an email he sent to staff Wednesday morning.

In the email sent at 8:41 a.m., Good claims he was fired for advocating for pay equity on behalf of two female reporters and a female photojournalist in the Gazette’s newsroom.

Michael Rifanburg, publisher of the Massachusetts newspapers owned by Newspapers of New England, said he cannot comment on Good’s claim that he was fired. Good also served as executive editor of the Valley Advocate, Amherst Bulletin and the newly acquired Athol Daily News.

“Although I can’t speak about Jeff’s leaving because it’s a personnel matter, I’ve enjoyed working with Jeff over the years and wish him all the best,” Rifanburg said.

However, in a statement issued early Wednesday afternoon, Rifanburg said, “Respectfully, the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Recorder disagree with Mr. Good’s negative characterizations about our ongoing efforts to meet and work with employees to address pay concerns. Since 2016, we have been actively engaged at the Gazette and Recorder in reviewing pay in all areas to determine if there are any differences in pay and address any differences we find. We started and took these measures before Mr. Good was involved, and we will continue with these important analyses after Mr. Good’s departure. We started this review, not Mr. Good.”

Good, who began his tenure at NNE’s Pioneer Valley newspapers in 2014, said in a phone interview that he was fired for his push to ensure all newsroom staff receive fair salaries.

“I was fired without cause. The only reason was this,” said Good, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1995. “I will be able to walk out with my head held high.”

Rifanburg explained that since he took over as publisher in 2016, Rifanburg said he has welcomed any concerns related to pay that are brought up because they supplement this ongoing work.

“We are putting together a plan we feel will address pay equity, be transparent in its nature, and will help employees feel comfortable that we take it seriously.”

The three Gazette staffers cited by Good in his exit memo — reporters Emily Cutts and Lisa Spear and photojournalist Sarah Crosby — issued a statement Wednesday, explaining their rationale for pursuing information about the company’s pay scale.

“Our job as journalists is to ask tough questions and tell the truth,” they wrote. “That charge does not stop when we walk through the doors of our own newsroom. Pay parity is a complicated and important issue and we look forward to continuing the conversation.”