Larry Parnass named executive editor of The Republican


Staff Writer

Published: 02-06-2023 4:29 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A longtime editor and writer whose career in journalism for the past 35 years has spanned much of the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires will begin leading the newsroom at The Republican in Springfield later this month.

Larry Parnass, who spent nearly 30 years as an editor at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, will succeed Cynthia Simison as executive editor of The Republican, beginning his tenure on Feb. 20 in advance of her March 1 retirement.

“I was drawn to the challenge of stepping up journalism in the Valley, with Springfield at the heart of the operations, and in a part of western Massachusetts that deserves a strong commitment to purposeful journalism,” Parnass said in a phone interview Monday.

Parnass, who since 2016 has been an editor and reporter at The Berkshire Eagle, will report to publisher and CEO George Arwady. Parnass also will serve on the company’s management committee to guide operations.

He arrives at a time when the newspaper is seeing some turnover in staff. He is prepared to rebuild the newsroom, along with keeping on more seasoned journalists.

“There is a tremendous skillset and knowledge base in the veteran reporters I’ll be joining, who really do a terrific job,” Parnass said.

“I’m really honored to join a paper with so much history and incredible intrepid coverage of the region,” he added.

Parnass worked at the Gazette from 1988 to 2016 in a variety of roles, beginning as regional editor, serving as both arts editor and managing editor and then becoming editor in 2009, handling the opinion pages.

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When he left for the Eagle, he joined the Pittsfield newspaper as its investigative editor, a reporting position with supervisory responsibilities, and then had a fellowship in 2019 and 2020 in Milwaukee.

When he returned, he came back to continue to lead a group of five members of an investigative reporting team, and since April 2022 has been the newspaper’s managing editor of innovations, with a focus on online journalism.

Simison, according to an article published in The Republican and on MassLive, was named executive editor in January 2020 and will become executive editor emerita. Simison began working for the Springfield Daily News in May 1977 and cited growing up in Northampton, and being from the same neighborhood as late associate publisher Richard C. Garvey, as aiding her career.

Simison called herself the luckiest person in the world.

“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 Republican article.

In an email to the Gazette, Simison reflected on her time at the Gazette as a junior high school student, her appreciation for then Gazette owners Charlie and Peter DeRose and her first editor, Milt Cole. She is confident Parnass is a good choice as her successor.

“His devotion to community journalism, his love of the written word and his ability to connect with people from all walks of life to tell their stories will surely inspire the new generation of writers among us,” Simison said.

Her commitment has also included serving on local and regional boards, such as the boards for the YMCA of Greater Springfield, the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Northampton Dollars for Scholars.

Parnass said the concept of having newspapers of record is evolving and that there are questions about whether they can serve communities in the way they once did, with school lunch menus and other similar information available online.

“It’s always smart and healthy to take a look at what you’re covering and what you’re missing and how to use time in the best possible way,” Parnass said.

Parnass, married to Lisa Styles and father of three grown children, has long made his home in Ashfield, and will continue to do so, but in the interest of becoming more familiar with Springfield anticipates renting an apartment in the city.

His role, he said, has always been that of player coach, both in editing and writing.

“I loved discovering the Berkshires but relish getting back into covering trends and issues in the Valley,” Parnass said. “I would love to build relationships with the Valley news coverage, and look for ways to work together to strengthen journalism as a whole. There’s a collective strength between public media and private newspapers.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at]]>