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 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. Although we cannot discuss personnel matters out of respect for our employees, Mr. Good’s transition is in no way due to his participation in the Gazette’s ongoing efforts to address pay equity issues.
The several closed-door meetings Jeff and I had continued a culture that was secretive, stressful and difficult to move the issue forward in. Additionally, I am disappointed in Jeff’s decision to name me and two other women in his company-wide email without our consent and without notifying us.
Dear Colleagues,Publisher Mike Rifanburg informed me this week that I am being fired. The reason: I advocated for transparency and fair pay for our female colleagues at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and its sister publications.A group of three talented and courageous women in the Gazette newsroom — reporters Lisa Spear and Emily Cutts and photojournalist Sarah Crosby — complained in recent months that they were being underpaid, in light of their education, experience and contributions to our award-winning news reports. They were right. I went into Mike’s office and pushed for them — and others who had not yet complained, female and male — to be paid equitably.I accept my share of blame for the situation that prompted the women’s protests. While I have always taken pride in seeking raises for deserving employees, I (and my boss) failed to see the gap developing as we hired some male reporters at higher-than-existing rates based on their previous salaries or competing job offers. I appreciated the women pointing out the disparity and felt honor-bound to address it as quickly as possible.The newswomen, along with some male colleagues, also asked for greater transparency from management in how compensation decisions are made, for a staff gathering rather than exclusively one-on-one meetings.I supported these requests, asking Mike to authorize raises for these women and others in our family of newspapers. I also advocated for a staff meeting at which we could do what the newspapers ask the leaders of other powerful institutions to do: Provide honest answers to fair questions.Initially, Mike seemed to be a willing partner; he said he supported equity and approved some increases. But as more staffers clamored for raises and pressure on the budget increased, Mike became resentful and resistant in our closed-door meetings. He rejected the idea of a staff meeting and berated me for supporting it. “You should be a leader,” he said. “Instead, you are being led.”Funny. I thought being a leader meant precisely this — listening respectfully to legitimate concerns and then responding to them in a clear and respectful way.After Lisa, Sarah and Emily refused to give up, Mike finally relented and asked me to schedule the staff meeting now set for next Thursday, Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. But he is none too happy about it or about the raises. In our last conversation before he fired me, Mike repeatedly referred to Lisa, Sarah and Emily as “girls” and “selfish young ladies.”I reject those demeaning terms. Instead, I would call our colleagues brave young women — women who are showing the way to a workplace defined by equity rather than exclusivity, a newsroom that stands for the things I’ve thought a newsroom should stand for since I began in this business 37 years ago: justice, respect and truth.I’ve worked for Newspapers of New England since 2000, first at the Valley News in New Hampshire and, since 2014, here. I’m proud of the role I’ve been able to play in helping talented journalists to do their best work, in leading us to accolades including New England Newspaper of the Year and — most importantly — in serving our communities with journalism that stands up to bullies rather than shrinking before them.I walk out of here with my head held high, proud of the work that we’ve done together over the years. I won’t yield to bullying, and I know you will not, either. Every day, you make me proud.Jeff