Local, Family-Run Newspaper Wins Pulitzer Prize For Its Reporting Against Big Corporations
Art Cullen, Editor of The Storm Lake Times, has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing “for editorials fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.” The newspaper is based in Storm Lake, Iowa, United States.
The award is given “for distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, using any available journalistic tool.”
— The Pulitzer Prizes (@PulitzerPrize) April 10, 2017
The Pulitzer prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. The 21 winners of the 2017 Pulitzer prizes (full list here) were announced during a ceremony at Columbia University in New York City on 10 April.
The Storm Lake Times
The Storm Lake Times (official website) published its inaugural issue on Friday, 29 June 1990. When it began, it had a full-time staff of just three people in a 20-by-20 foot one-room office.
Some facts about The Storm Lake Times:
- It is a biweekly publication.
- It has an average readership of 3000.
- The paper is a family-run publication; most of the reporting is done by Art Cullen and his son, Tom.
- The Storm Lake Times has the largest readership of any newspaper — daily or weekly — in Buena Vista County.
- The Times is the only locally-owned newspaper in Buena Vista County.
- An average issue of The Times includes 60 news and sports photographs, about one-third of them in color.
The paper is known for its fearless reporting that confronted Iowa state’s most powerful agricultural interests – which include corporate giants like the Koch Brothers, Cargill. and Monsanto – and their secret funding of the government’s defense of a big environmental lawsuit.
The winning work is a series of 10 editorials published by the newspaper between March and November 2016. The reporting details a lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works against drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties in north-west Iowa. The lawsuit accused the districts of funnelling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River. The Storm Lake Times’s editorials covered a fund organized by the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, which was being used for the three counties’ legal defense. Donors’ names were being kept secret.
As the newspaper proudly states on its website:
“We strive to put out a quality product because we are the only locally-owned newspaper in Buena Vista County and take good old-fashioned pride in our work. No corporate doublespeak here — just two brothers and a dozen employees working hard to support their families. Thank you for your support.”
The Logical Indian community congratulates Art Cullen and his team at The Storm Lake Times for their victory. Their brand of independent, issue-oriented local reporting is what forms the backbone of journalism in any country, and they have set a standard with their fearless reportage.