Jay Tebbe, the Belleville News-Democrat’s president and publisher, announced Monday he will retire at the end of the year.
Tebbe has been the company’s chief executive for 14 years. He was hired in 1976 as a truck driver and worked his way up through the ranks to become president and publisher in April 2004.
“Forty-one years ago this week, I started working here at the BND,” Tebbe said. “Twenty-eight years ago this week, I was promoted to be a department head. Eighteen years ago this week my predecessor asked me to move to advertising. And 14 years ago this week, my predecessor announced he was retiring.
“It seems appropriate I announce my decision to retire from the BND this week. It’s time. I need to slow down some.”
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Tebbe, 59, announced his retirement at an employee meeting Monday afternoon. Tony Berg, Midwest regional publisher for McClatchy, attended the meeting.
Berg said he has “deep admiration and gratitude” for Tebbe and his dedication to the BND and its employees. He said Tebbe “cares about everyone on a very personal level.”
“You’ve been a good partner for me and I certainly appreciate that,” Berg said. “I know I speak on behalf of the region, I speak on behalf of McClatchy: Thank you for everything you’ve done for not only this property but for our company, and I wish you all the best.”
Tebbe led the BND through one of the most transformational periods in its 160-year history — its evolution from a newspaper to a multi-platform, digital journalism company.
Under his watch, the BND has been recognized for its strong local journalism, particularly its award-winning investigative reporting, and for its consistent growth in digital audience.
“I’ve worked here 70 percent of my life, and working here shifted from a job, to a family, to a mission,” Tebbe said. “The mission of local journalism is more important than ever, and I am extremely proud of the outstanding journalism, especially our watchdog work.”
Tebbe has served in a variety of positions, including head of circulation and advertising and company vice president, before he was promoted to president and publisher in 2004. The BND traces its roots to 1858, and he is just the sixth publisher since 1891.
Along the way, the Belleville native and Althoff Catholic High School graduate has been deeply involved in community affairs. He is about to end his three-year tenure as civilian chairman of the Belle-Scott Committee and has served multiple terms on the board of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, including as its president in 2007.
He has also served on the boards of Get to Know the Metro-East, United Way, Downtown Belleville Optimists, Cathedral Grade School, Downtown Belleville YMCA, Lewis and Clark Council of the BSA, American Heart Association Heart Walk, the American Cancer Society, Belleville District 118 Foundation, Air Mobility Command Civic Leaders, and the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois. He has been a member of the St. Peter’s Cathedral Finance Council, the Diocesan Finance Council, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Committee and the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Community Advisory Board.
Tebbe was born and raised in Belleville. Tebbe and his wife, Diane, have two children and two grandchildren.