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Simison to retire, Parnass to lead The Republican newsroom

Cynthia Simison, executive editor of The Republican newspaper, speaking to NEPM's Connecting Point in 2021.
Connecting Point
Cynthia Simison, executive editor of The Republican newspaper, speaking to NEPM's Connecting Point in 2021.

There are major changes coming to newsroom leadership at The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Republican's executive editor, Cynthia Simison, is retiring from the post in the coming weeks. She's been at the paper since 1977 and is the first woman to hold the top job in the newsroom.

Simison will be succeeded by another veteran western Massachusetts journalist and editor, Larry Parnass.

The paper made the announcement in its Sunday edition.

Simison, who began as an intern several summers before 1977, has led the newsroom since 2020.

“Sharing the stories of life in Western Massachusetts has been an absolute joy, and I hope that along the way I’ve helped inform our readers, made life better in some small way and shone a light on important topics,” Simison said in the story announcing the change.

Local elected officials lauded Simison for her long career, and how she went about it.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D) of Springfield said Simison was just interested in reporting the news.

"Well before the age of social media, Cynthia Simison would have been of that generation that took a deep breath, understanding that getting it right was more important than getting it fast," Neal said.

In a press release, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno wished Simison "a happy and healthy retirement."

“[A]s a journalist and editor, she was a consummate professional, always fair and respectful in her reporting," Sarno said. "I always enjoyed our conversations.”

Parnass begins at the paper later this month, but he is no stranger to western Massachusetts or its newspapers. He spent the last six years at The Berkshire Eagle as an editor and reporter. Prior to that, he served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton.

Parnass said he received a note from a friend which said, “It appears you’ve hit all of the sites on your western Mass. journalism bingo card.”

Parnass called it a “great thrill” to be involved in journalism based in Hampden County, and outlined some of his goals.

“I think I will work to bring a regional perspective, and I will work to build some alliances among the media in western Mass, which I think we can all engage in for mutual benefit," he said Monday.

The Republican, like many papers across the county, has seen a shrinking editorial staff in recent years. In light of that, Parnass said good choices will have to be made in what to cover.

"We just have to be sure that we are excited about chasing the stories that really matter the most, that answer the most pressing questions, that entertain and inform, but that really just bring real value," he said.

Reacting to The Republican’s leadership change, Diana Szynal, the president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, a business group, said she hopes the focus of the paper remains local.

"What's happening locally, what businesses are doing locally — there's a lot of great advertising in there," she said. "Print news is just such an important part of keeping local news relevant."

Changes in newsroom leadership have also hit two sister entities of The Republican in recent months. Mike Dobbs retired as Reminder Publishing’s managing editor last fall after more than two decades.

At MassLive, its former vice president of content, Ed Kubosiak Jr. left the website last month. Kubosiak had been charged with domestic assault, but the charges were later dropped. Still, MassLive announced that it "terminated Ed's employment" after an internal investigation.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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