Editor, The News-gazette of Champaign, IL Education: St. Bonaventure University, bachelor of arts in mass communications
Editor and Publisher
2022 E&P EDITORS EXTRAORDINAIRE
Jeff D’alessio’s nomination lauded his award-winning journalism: “seven (and counting) consecutive Illinois Press Association Newspaper of the Year honors (longest streak by far in the state) and three E&P ‘10 That Do It Right’ awards (and four honorable mentions).” But probably more impactful — “he changed the way the newspaper is perceived: We better reflect the diverse audience we serve thanks to the many changes he has quarterbacked.” Many newsrooms are trying to do what Jeff has done with a newsroom “one-third the size of three years ago.” After reading this, we knew we wanted to hear from him. What advice do you have for other young professionals who aspire to become an editor extraordinaire? I don’t pretend to know what makes an editor extraordinaire, but here are a few journalism rules I try to live by: Be a fierce advocate for your staff, even if it means occasionally setting a subscriber straight. Set lofty standards and never waiver from them — even for a 3-inch brief. Never pass on an opportunity to engage a reader, build a story around an anonymous source or stop trying to tell stories in new, innovative, alternative, more reader-friendly ways. Recognize that being an editor in 2022 comes with a different job description than in 2000, 2010 or 2020. It often also involves playing breaking news writer, iphone photographer, social media marketer, Zoom public speaker, radio fill-in and — something that might have been (foolishly) frowned upon 20 years ago but is essential in this challenging media climate — liaison to the advertising department. The latter can be achieved without crossing any sacred ethical lines. What are some important lessons you have learned from your audience? They know the difference between good journalism and cheap clickbait, appreciate a product with coverage that reflects the diverse community we call home, and are chock-full of story leads and tips that we’d never have known about had we not returned their phone call, answered their email or joined them for lunch.