The contributions of Jim Burgess to the newspaper industry extend far beyond his role as a journalist and publisher in Wisconsin. He followed the career path of his grandfather and father, both publishers of the La Crosse Tribune – a position he subsequently held – and became a strong and influential voice on the national scene.
Burgess demonstrated an abiding commitment to the highest standards of journalism through involvement with the American Press Institute and International Press Institute, and membership on the boards of visitors of the University of Wisconsin College of Letters and Science and School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he endowed a chair in journalism ethics.
After serving as Daily Cardinal business manager and graduating with a UW journalism degree in 1958, Burgess served in the Air Force as a missile guidance officer before starting a career with Lee Enterprises. He worked in the newsroom at the Wisconsin State Journal and then in the circulation and production departments at Missoula, Mont., before becoming publisher in Helena and then returning home to La Crosse and the Lee-acquired Tribune. He later served as Lee executive vice president and then from 1984 to 1993 as State Journal publisher.
Burgess received the Inland Daily Press Association distinguished service award in 1992 and the UW-Madison journalism school distinction in 1990. He served as WNA president in 1993-94, and earlier as Inland president and as a director of the Associated Press. Burgess has been a tireless advocate of the industry and a professional to emulate.