CHAMPAIGN — Jim Rossow has been named executive editor of The News-Gazette, succeeding John Beck, who is retiring from the newspaper after 38 years.
Rossow has been The News-Gazette's sports editor since 1996. During that time, The News-Gazette's sports section has consistently been recognized as one of the best sports sections in the nation.
In seeking a successor to Beck, News-Gazette Publisher John Foreman said he was looking for a "hands-on" editor who would help the staff report and present news both online and in print.
Rossow helped develop the IlliniHQ sports website and recognized what the Web could do, Foreman said.
"He took a very good sports department and made it a great sports department," he added.
Foreman called Rossow "an exciting, innovative guy" who can engage both staff and readers and build relationships "between the people who report the news and the people who read it."
"Having Jim available and willing made my decision very easy," he said.
Working closely with Rossow will be Jeff D'Alessio, who has been named managing editor for news.
D'Alessio, a former sports writer for The News-Gazette, recently rejoined the staff. He and Rossow will oversee news, sports and features coverage for The News-Gazette.
D'Alessio covered University of Illinois men's basketball for The News-Gazette from 1994 to 2000.
He then served as senior editor/online for Sporting News from 2000 to 2002, sports editor for Florida Today from 2002 to 2004, and as deputy sports editor and senior day editor for news and information at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2004 to 2008. He returned to Sporting News in 2008 to serve as editor-in-chief and then assistant to the CEO.
Foreman said D'Alessio has a great background both in sports and news.
"He is a 'get,'" Foreman said, comparing D'Alessio to a star athlete that recruiters want to land.
"He is unbelievably accomplished. ... His credentials are impeccable, and his attitude is through the roof," Foreman said. "He's excited being in Champaign-Urbana and the opportunities this can offer."
Dan Corkery, the paper's managing editor since 1996, has been named managing editor for administration.
He will take over many of Beck's administrative duties, including handling contracts with The Associated Press and news syndicates.
Foreman called Corkery "very experienced," adding that "he knows things inside and out." Corkery joined The News-Gazette staff in 1980 and was named news editor in 1987.
With Rossow's promotion, Fred Kroner has been named The News-Gazette's executive sports editor. Kroner, who joined the paper in 1981, is the newspaper's high school sports coordinator and has covered sports for more than 30 years.
Kroner was named Illinois Sportswriter of the Year in 2001 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mike Goebel will become acting sports editor, overseeing day-to-day coverage until a sports editor is named. He will oversee much of The News-Gazette's online presentation, Rossow said.
When asked what readers are likely to notice as a result of the staff changes, Foreman said, "What you're going to see is more reader engagement in stories and more attempts to draw readers' thoughts and reactions."
Beck, who joined The News-Gazette in 1975 and became news editor in 1978, was promoted to managing editor in 1986 and executive editor in 1996. He will retire from the company Nov. 15.
Foreman called Beck "a model of dependability, reliability and integrity who has worked a long time to make The News-Gazette better in fundamental ways."
He set standards for hiring journalists and determined the way the paper ought to look each day, Foreman said.
"He deserves more credit for the quality of The News-Gazette than he has ever been accorded," Foreman said.
"He is not a flashy or showy kind of guy, but he insists on the fundamentals being mastered and is serious about the quality of what we do."