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Monday, June 5, 2017 03:31 pm

IPA president resigns

Quits after contest rigging exposed

Dennis DeRossett, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Press Association, has resigned.

The resignation announced today by the press association comes after Illinois Times revealed that DeRossett had rigged a journalism contest, unilaterally reversing the decisions of judges (“Take This Plaque and Shove It,” April 27, 2017; “Contest-gate,” May 11, 2017).

DeRossett alluded to the IT stories in a statement released by the press association to member newspapers.

“It is unfortunate that recent events have become a distraction for the organization, nevertheless, in order for the association to move forward and to act in the best interest of all members, I have decided to resign and allow new membership to continue the mission and fine work of the IPA,” DeRossett said in an email sent by the association to member newspapers.

DeRossett had been head of the IPA since 2010. His salary at the time of his resignation isn’t known, but he was paid $188,000 in 2015, according to federal tax records. Prior to becoming head of the IPA, DeRossett worked at newspapers in a half-dozen states, most recently at The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, where he was publisher from 2002 until the IPA hired him seven years ago.

Don Craven, a Springfield attorney who is IPA general counsel, will serve as interim president and chief executive officer while the association board searches for a someone to fill the position on a permanent basis, the IPA said in its email to member newspapers.

“A wrong has been righted,” said Jeff Egbert, publisher of the Pinckneyville Press, whose photo decreed the first-place winner by a judge in the IPA’s 2011 contest was relegated to second place by DeRossett. Egbert said that he heard that DeRossett was resigning two weeks ago and that he has rejoined the IPA after leaving the association in protest over the contest rigging.

“That was pretty much what I said the whole time: I would not be involved in the association as long as he was,” Egbert said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.



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