DO NOT CALL POLICY
This newspaper uses the telephone as one important way to stay in contact with our customers and our potential customers in the community. Because a good relationship with the community is a necessary ingredient of our success, and in keeping with state and federal laws, it is the policy of this newspaper that we will not make sales-related telephone calls to any person who has indicated a desire not to receive such calls. This includes those who have registered with state or federal "Do Not Call" lists, as well as those who have previously told us directly that they do not wish to receive such calls.
La Crosse Tribune may at times offer subscription opportunities or solicit prospective customers by calling on private residences.
You may make a request to be added to our Do Not Call list in writing or by telephone. All requests should include your name, address and telephone number. Written requests should be mailed to: La Crosse Tribune, Attn: Do Not Call Coordinator, 401 N. 3rd St,, La Crosse, WI 54601. Your telephone number will remain on our Do Not Call list for five years unless you specify otherwise. Of course, if your telephone number changes, you must give us your new number if you want your "Do Not Call" status to remain in effect.
Please keep in mind that regulations may permit La Crosse Tribune to contact you even if your telephone number is registered with your state or the national list. For instance, if you were a subscriber to La Crosse Tribune in the past 18 months, we may contact you to inform you of a subscription opportunity even if your telephone number is on the state or national "Do Not Call" list. We like to remind customers as a service that their subscriptions are expiring and to offer special advertising opportunities to selected customers.
The La Crosse Tribune has more than 105 years of service to the La Crosse Community.
Our newspaper and publishing products are the premier source for news, information and advertising in the region.
The newspaper is proud of its journalism legacy and its mission of seeking fairness, honesty and balance in its reporting. It is a mission built upon the foundational bedrock of ethics.
The Tribune is committed to being a good citizen in the community, both through leadership and through support of community institutions and activities.
We are proud of our employees and value their role and commitment to carrying on the our mission for the next 100 years.
Tribune berthed amidst controversy
A battle over utilities brought about the creation of the La Crosse Tribune 100 years ago. Amid controversy of rising utility rates and utility consolidation, existing newspapers were accused of ignoring the issue. But the public wouldn't let this issue be ignored. Their cries of foul were heard by some journalists, and that led to the formation of the La Crosse Tribune.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were three power and light companies in La Crosse - The La Crosse Electric Co., Brush Electric Co. and La Crosse Gas Co. In 1902, George McMillan, who recently had sold a successful power and light company in Appleton, Wis., came to La Crosse and made a savvy business move. He combined the three existing companies into the La Crosse Gas and Electric Co.
Nobody paid much attention to McMillan until the light and power rates jumped 10 cents per kilowatt hour to 22 cents per kilowatt hour in the highest brackets. Then lots of people started paying attention. According to a 1938 Tribune recounting of the events, pandemonium broke loose. "Consumers of light and power current and gas raved furiously in the streets." Back then, there was little regulation of services. Nothing could be done to prevent the rate hikes. It got worse in 1903 when the Central Electric Co. was purchased by the La Crosse Gas and Electric Co. Once again, people were upset.
At the time, there were two newspapers in La Crosse - the Morning Chronicle and the Leader-Press. Neither paper published anything about the consolidation of the power companies and resulting rate hikes. Many readers thought the newspapers were covering something up and it caused resentment and suspicion. People began demanding a different newspaper.
William E. Barber, formerly business manager of the Morning Chronicle, joined Grant E. Reynolds of the Barron Co. and on May 16, 1904, published the first edition of the La Crosse Tribune. A.M. Brayton, who had been managing editor at the Morning Chronicle, was the first editor of the La Crosse Tribune. "We are here for business," Brayton wrote in an editorial in the first edition. "We desire to impress our readers most emphatically with its permanence and substantiability in order that any suggestion that may have been sought to be disseminated that it is here to serve a transient purpose and that its other aims are merely incidental to that purpose may be given the estimate of which it is deserving. ... 'I read it in the Tribune,' we hope, will have the weight that goes with opinions from those habitually fair and accurate." From the beginning, it was a struggle to put out the paper with a limited staff. A teen-aged Joseph Kidder applied to the new city editor, Vince Kidder, his older brother, and was hired as a reporter. There was one linotype machine and a few type cases. The press work was done by Adolph Candrian, who published the Nordstern next door to the building at 121 Main St., which the Tribune was renting from G.R. Montague. Candrian permitted the Tribune to cut a hole in the basement wall to take plates for the press in and out.
Since the Tribune was underfinanced from day one, it was always a struggle to pay the rent. But Montague didn't evict the staff. He said he knew he would be paid one day.
From the day of its birth, the Tribune crusaded for a competing power and light company in town. That goal was realized when the Wisconsin Power and Light Co. was organized with incorporators J.J. Hogan, G. Van Steenwyck, Henry A. Salzer, John C. Burns and George Schweizer. A power plant with turbine engines was built on the Black River near what is now Copeland Park.
As the new company struggled to become operational, so, too, did the Tribune struggle to remain solvent. Debts were piling up, the Tribune was unable to make payments on its new press and the rent was still unpaid. Every Saturday it was a scramble from banks to stockholders and friends of the paper to raise enough money to meet payroll. In the fall of 1906, the Tribune and the Lee Syndicate began negotiations for the sale of the paper to the syndicate.
In 1907, the Tribune became the property of the Lee Syndicate. Two years after that, the La Crosse Gas and Electric Co. purchased the Wisconsin Light and Power Co.
A new era begins With the acquisition by the Lee Syndicate, a new era began at the Tribune. A.M. Brayton served as editor and publisher and Frank H. Burgess came on board as business manager. The Tribune secured a 10-year lease at the Trane building located at 201-203 S. Fifth Ave. In 1915, the Tribune purchased the building and an addition was built. In 1924, the building was remodeled again.
Shortly after Lee bought the Tribune, the La Crosse Gas and Electric Co. purchased the La Crosse Light and Power Co., thus ending the episode that launched the birth of the Tribune. The Tribune made no protest, accepting that consolidation was inevitable. In 1917, the Tribune purchased the Leader-Press, its only surviving rival, for $100,000. Ronald Gelatt, editor and publisher of the Leader-Press, came on as the Tribune's publisher and Brayton remained as the Tribune's editor. From 1917 to 1944, the Tribune used the name La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, acknowledging the combination of the two papers.
Tribune employees didn't know what to expect when Gelatt, their bitter rival, became publisher. "The entire Tribune personnel regarded him as an evil genius," according to a 1938 account in the Tribune. But that attitude didn't last. "The staff found Mr. Gelatt a kindly, interesting and companionable person, always ready to give a lift to youngsters on the staff," the account continued. This account also tells of Gelatt's beginning as a printer and his fondness for the printing part of the business.
"He loved type, and would actually pet a new case when it was unpacked. Occasionally he would sit at a linotype and write his own articles, and the proof was always perfect."
Gelatt died of a stroke within six months of arriving at the Tribune, and Brayton once more assumed duties as publisher. Brayton left the Tribune in 1919 to work as editor and publisher of a newly acquired Lee newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, and Frank H. Burgess was named publisher. On June 1, 1937, Frank's son William became the Tribune's business manager, and one of his first tasks was to oversee construction of a new Tribune building at Fourth and Cass streets, which the Tribune called home from 1938 to 1973. William succeeded Frank as publisher in 1939.
In 1938, when the Tribune published a section celebrating its move into the new building, the news of the day was similar to the news today. There was talk of construction - "La Crosse now has a concrete highway extending eastward capable of handling heavy motor traffic," which was written in reference to Hwy. 16. And there was an extensive article on the marsh and an argument for filling it in so houses could be built there. There was also talk of a new bridge across the Mississippi River that was scheduled for completion in 1939.
The big news at the Tribune was that color came to the pages of the newspaper for the first time in 1938. In 1948, the Tribune published its first full-color advertisement, and in 1950, the first color photo was published. Sometimes, changes at the Tribune coincided with big news of the day. In a Tribune newsletter dated July 1, 1944, the lead story was about instituting a new type face the same day news of D-Day broke. "The Tribune had its face lifted, and the operation just happened to be timed for the day of the invasion. So when the men started to work on the extra, they not only had to contend with all the difficulties to be expected, but had to write and set heads in strange type." Every department at the Tribune was depleted during World War II, and it changed how work was done and who was doing it. Lillian Klawitter became the first female advertising salesperson as she filled in for salesmen who were called to war duty. Women filled in for men throughout the newsroom, handling reporting and photography jobs that were previously not offered to them.
"We were terribly shorthanded in those days," remembered Klawitter in a 1973 interview. "Whenever there was a big news break on the war, we'd come down and help get out the extra. We'd write headlines, type copy, bundle papers - whatever needed doing."
In 1954, when the Tribune published a 50th anniversary issue, William Burgess was touted for all the work he did moving into the new building in 1938 and keeping the newspaper profitable through the years.
"Even in the war years when newsprint became scarce and its cost shot upward and many of the Tribune's staff were called into service, the newspaper advanced in all departments."
Following William Burgess in the publisher's job from 1972-73 was his son, James Burgess. In 1973, Kenneth O. Blanchard became publisher and held that job until 1987. Blanchard had worked his way up through the ranks, putting in many years on the sports desk before rising to the top spot at the Tribune. The year Blanchard took over as publisher was also the year the Tribune moved into its present building at 401 N. Third St.
Blanchard was followed by Sanders Hook, who held the post from 1987 to 1995. Hook had worked for Lee Enterprises for 30 years, including jobs in the circulation and editorial departments at the Tribune before being named operations director in 1972 and general manager in 1973. He moved to Bismarck, N.D., to become general manager and eventually publisher there and in Decatur, Ill., before returning to La Crosse as publisher in 1987.
Under Hook's leadership, one of the biggest changes to occur at the La Crosse Tribune happened in 1990 when the paper switched from afternoon to morning publication. It wasn't just reporters and copy editors who had to adjust to new schedules and face new deadlines. Paper carriers were now getting up in the early morning to deliver the paper instead of delivering it in the afternoon.
In the 1980s, one of the biggest news stories to hit the Coulee Region landed at Fort McCoy. Fifteen thousand Cuban refugees came flooding into the fort, and Tribune reporter Terry Rindfleisch started covering the refugees full-time along with Tribune reporter Terry Shelton and then-correspondent Bill White, who later came onto the staff as a full-time reporter.
With nothing but the clothes on their backs, the refugees started arriving at the fort, and suddenly there was a need for Spanish language translators. It was a piece of international news happening right here at home, and the news dominated Tribune headlines for months, involving more than 20 Tribune reporters, editors and photographers.
In 1995, Jim Santori came on as publisher of the La Crosse Tribune, and a year later, the Tribune completed an addition which houses its distribution center.
Santori was followed in the publisher's post by Mike Jameson from 2000 to 2003. In January of this year, Rusty Cunningham became publisher. It was a homecoming for Cunningham, who was editor at the Tribune from 1997 to 2002.
Michael Burns was named publisher of the River Valley Media Group in 2015.
Today, the Tribune is still owned by Lee Enterprises Inc. and is part of the River Valley Media Group, which also includes the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and Monitor-Herald, The Coulee News, Vernon County Broadcaster, Westby Times, Jackson County Chronicle, Onalaska-Holmen Courier Life, the Houston County News and the Foxxy Shoppers.
KEY EVENTS IN TRIBUNE HISTORY
1904 " Founded at 121 Main St.
1905 " First press purchased;
North Side branch office opened
1907 " Purchased by Lee Newspaper Group; moves to building at 201 Fifth Ave. S.; circulation passes 5,000
1910 " Special 112-page End of the Decade edition published
1911 " Special 140-page Trade Area edition published
1915 " Purchases building at 201 Fifth Ave. S.
1916 " Remodels building at 201 Fifth Ave. S.; circulation passes 10,000
1917 " Purchases La Crosse Leader-Press; name changed to La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press; first Sunday edition published
1924 " Enlarge building at 201 Fifth Ave. S.; add new equipment
1926 " First full page comic section published
1938 " Moves to new building at Fourth and Cass streets; special 120-page New Building Section published; selected as best U.S. newspaper in cities under 50,000
1941 " Photo and Engraving departments organized
1942 " Circulation passes 20,000
1944 " Leader-Press disappears from nameplate
1945 " Art Department organized
1946 " First Sunday color comic section published; microfilming begins of Tribune newspapers
1947 " Teletypsetters installed for automatic Linotype operation; full-time farm reporter and photographer added to staff; North Side branch office closes
1948 " First full color advertisement published
1949 " Circulation passes 30,000
1950 " First full color photo published; debut of Building, Home and Garden section
1951 " United Press telephoto service begins; Associated Press teleprinter service begins
1954 " 50th Anniversary marked
1960 " Cost of daily paper increases from 7 to 10 cents
1972 " Photo composition replaces Linotype hot metal process
1973 " Moves to new building at 401 Third St. N.; offset printing of paper begins
1980 " Front page Tribune logotype changes from Old English style to a modern face; circulation passes 35,000
1984 " Paper changes from 8 to 6-column format
1988 " Paper undergoes major redesign
1990 " Paper changes from afternoon to morning publication; electronic library installed
1992 " Cost of daily paper increases from 35 to 50 cents
1996 " New distribution center erected next to Tribune building; Website http://www.lacrossetribune.com was launched
1999 " Tribune plant begins printing the Winona Daily News
2004 " 100th Anniversary marked; paper undergoes major redesign and press installation
2008: Combined circulation and Website audience is largest in company history.
Source: Tribune Files
LEE Enterprises History
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Lee's newspapers have circulation of 1.7 million daily and 1.9 million Sunday, reaching more than four million readers daily. Lee's online sites reach more than two million users, and Lee's weekly publications have distribution of more than 4.5 million households.
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Lee's newspaper markets include Madison, Wis.; Lincoln, Neb.; Davenport, Iowa; St. Louis, Mo.; Billings, Mont.; Bloomington, Ill.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Napa, Calif.
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