Former Gazette executive director alleges he was fired for advocating for equal pay


(Caeli Chesin/ Collegian)

By Jackson Cote, News Editor

 Jeffrey Good, now former executive director for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Greenfield Recorder, stated today that he was fired for advocating “for transparency and fair pay” among three women in the Gazette’s newsroom and sister publications.

In an email sent to his former colleagues at 8:42 a.m., Good wrote that reporters Emily Cutts and Lisa Spear, and photojournalist Sarah Crosby, brought to his attention that they were being underpaid despite “their education, experience and contributions to our award-winning news reports.”

Good also wrote that he supported their requests, asking Michael Rifanburg, publisher of the Gazette and Recorder, to authorize the raises. However, as more staffers sought raises, thus increasing pressure on the budget, Rifanburg became “resentful and resistant” in closed-door meetings, according to Good.

“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,” Rifanburg wrote in a statement. “Since 2016, we have been actively engaged at the Gazette and Recorder in reviewing pay in all areas to determine if there are differences in pay and address any differences we find.”

Rifanburg’s statement also disputed Good’s in that he wrote that Good’s “transition” was not due to his alleged advocacy efforts.

“Mr. Good’s transition is in no way due to his participation in the Gazette’s ongoing efforts to address pay equity issues,” Rifanburg wrote.

Good joined Newspapers of New England, the parent company of the Gazette, Recorder, Amherst Bulletin and the Valley Advocate, in 2000, and in 2014, he was promoted to executive editor of the company’s Pioneer Valley newspaper group.

“I’ve worked for the Newspapers of New England since 2001…I’m proud of the role I’ve been able to play in helping talented journalists to do their best work,” Good said. “I walk out of here with my head held high, proud of the work that we’ve done together over the years.”

In an article published by Poynter, though, two former high-ranking editors at the paper disputed Good’s portrayal as supporting of pay equity.

“Jeff is not the hero he makes himself out to be,” Laurie Loisel, a former managing editor of the Gazette, told Poynter.

Loisel, who had been at the Gazette for 29 years before leaving in 2015, also said that Good demoted her and was “marginalizing women.”

“I was one of several he ran out of the paper,” she said in the article. “I left a year ago under incredible duress.”

Kathleen Mellon, former arts editor for the Gazette, told a similar story, telling Poynter that Good had a poor record with women on staff.

In response to comments from Loisel and Mellon, Good told Poynter, “I respectfully disagree with those characterizations of my role. But I see no merit in debating them. They are entitled to their opinions.”

In an interview with MassLive, he also said, “It’s disappointing that as women who helped lead the way for a new generation of Gazette women journalists, Ms. Loisel and Ms. Mellon are not taking this opportunity to celebrate the courage of their successors. Instead, they choose to grind an old axe based in issues in their work, not mine.”

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.