By Corinne Murdock
A report from NewsGuild, the newspaper union, assessed that The Arizona Republic and 13 other newsrooms had gender and racial pay gaps. Outcry arose after it was claimed by the study that not only were those findings true, but The Arizona Republic had the largest gender and racial pay gaps of all the papers researched.
Gannett has pledged to diversify its workforce. But you can’t do that without fair pay.
— Arizona Republic Guild 🌵 (@azrepublicguild) April 27, 2021
The research summarized that under The Arizona Republic, women made nearly $30,000 less than their male counterparts, whereas people of color earned $25,000 less than white employees.
On Thursday, Gannett issued a response saying that the NewsGuild research was a “misinformation campaign.”
.@Gannett issued a response to @newsguild and their misinformation campaign re: the ‘study’ of 14 out of our 250+ newsrooms. We address the facts that were not disclosed. Gannett is on a journey. We’ve been transparent about our goals. #facts[,]” wrote USA Today Network PR.
.@Gannett issued a response to @newsguild and their misinformation campaign re: the ‘study’ of 14 out of our 250+ newsrooms. We address the facts that were not disclosed. Gannett is on a journey. We’ve been transparent about our goals. #facts https://t.co/UNnXqqeeAM
— USA TODAY NETWORK PR (@USATODAY_PR) April 29, 2021
Gannett explained that the research conclusions were made through a small sample size, and not the full set of the population. Further, information like job titles wasn’t included in the study.
“The sweeping generalizations used in your document are misleading,” wrote the company. “The fact is that data can be skewed to support any narrative – which is the tactic the Guild is using to share misinformation,” stated Gannett.
Indigenous affairs reporter Shondiin Silverman complained that The Arizona Republic that she should be earning more than $40,000 because of her master’s degree and decades of experience.
“It’s infuriating to see that the newsroom I have dedicated so much time and energy to doesn’t see my work as valuable as the other journalists in the room,” wrote Silversmith. “I have given more than enough to prove my worth. The fact that this newsroom does nothing to respect that is ridiculous.”
Spent 15 yrs w/@azcentral. I love journalism/truth/my communities. Worked for 4 exec editors & w/all @gannett equity/inclusion efforts to make a diff. Believe me: Under current top editor, I saw @DiinSilversmith, too many POC, women, LGBTQ journos devalued/discriminated against. https://t.co/EsGxlcadq9 pic.twitter.com/Ty72u1UTjf
— Dianna M. Náñez🏜✍🏽🦋 (@DiannaNanez) April 28, 2021
Some white reporters who’d previously worked for the paper confirmed what Silverman said.
Previous Arizona Republic reporter Bree Burkitt attested that she was earning $10,000 more than Silverman did to do the same job, despite not having a master’s degree or more years in job experience.
Other journalists with The Arizona Republic testified that the newspaper wasn’t diverse or inclusive.
Investigative reporter and The Arizona Republic Diversity Committee Chair Dianna Náñez said that in just over her dozen years, she’d never seen more inequality for minority reporters than under their paper’s current editor.
“Spent 15 yrs w/@azcentral. I love journalism/truth/my communities.Worked for 4 exec editors & w/all @gannett equity/inclusion efforts to make a diff[erence]. Believe me: Under current top editor, I saw [Silversmith], too many POC, women, LGBTQ journos devalued/discriminated against,” wrote Náñez.
In mid-April, The Arizona Republic Executive Editor Greg Burton issued a report stating that the paper is nearing its goal of matching community diversity. Burton described how over 75 percent of new hires were journalists of color, a great majority of which were women.
This month, Burton reported that The Arizona Republic would have 37 percent journalists of color. In 2016, that number was 20 percent. Additionally, 39 percent of managers are people of color – a nearly ten percent increase from last August.
“Our goal is to match a community that’s 44 percent people of color. We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress, and doing so while hiring the most skilled and promising journalists on the job market,” wrote Burton.
This mirrors a similar initiative announced by Gannett last year when it issued its “2020 Inclusion Report.” The company pledged to match the diversity of each paper’s community by 2025.
Per a 2019 analysis, circulation numbers for The Arizona Republic dropped below 100,000. The research noted that the paper had declined over 30 percent since 2017.
The Arizona population totals around 7.3 million people.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to email@example.com.