Tiny, family-run Iowa newspaper wins Pulitzer for taking on agriculture companies

Art Cullen owns the 3,000 -circulation Storm Lake Times with two brothers John. His wife and son likewise work at the paper

A small-town Iowa newspaper with a staff members of 10 people – most of whom are related to each other has won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural corporations over farm pollution.

Art Cullen, who owns the Storm Lake Timeswith two brothers John, recognise it wasnt easy-going taking on agriculture in a state like Iowa where you interpret hundreds of miles of farm domains in all directions. The Cullens lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.

Were here to objection folks premises and I think thats what every good newspaper should do, he said.

Among the other staff members at the Storm Lake Times is John Cullens wife Mary, Arts wife Dolores and their son, Tom. The family dog, Mabel likewise hangs out at the newspaper offices most of the time, Poynter reports.

Kevin Pang (@ pain)

Here’s the masthead of the Storm Lake Times, a 3,300 -circ paper that merely won the Pulitzer in Editorial Writing https :// DRSoQHuICx UNkdQMYoJ5

April 10, 2017

Cullens writing was lauded by the Pulitzer committee for editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive their skills and involving writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural concerns in Iowa.

As well as hard-hitting report and editorials, the working paper also includes local narratives. On Monday, a front-page tale told of how a second-grader detected a four-leaf clover in the field behind her school.

Cullen told the Washington Post that he knows what readers like. We strive to have a baby, a dog, a fire and a gate-crash on every front page, so, yes, we do pander, he said.

But it was the papers bird-dog coverage of farming issues affecting the state that won them the coveted journalism prize.

Buena Vista county, where the 3,000 -circulation, twice-weekly newspaper is based in north-west Iowa, was one of three counties sued by Des Moines Water Works for allowing too much nitrogen to be liberated through farm drainage systems into rivers from which the utility describes its clean drinking water. The counties fought the federal lawsuit applying money provided by undisclosed sources.

The newspaper worked with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council to force the liberate of documents depicting money came from the Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups.

Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his bowel that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America, Cullen wrote in a March 2016 editorial.

Iowa map

It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is making oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lagoons. It has caused us to expend millions upon millions trying to cleaning process Storm Lake, the main victims of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.

Cullen, 59, told me that he feels vindicated that the information was liberated.
A magistrate, nonetheless, dismissed the liquid utilitys lawsuit last month, presenting “the farmers ” groups and counties a clear succes.

Cullen is proud that the Pulitzer committee recognised his small newspapers endeavours alongside those of bigger articles. The two other finalists in the editorial writing category were from the Houston Chronicle and The Washington Post.

Weve always believed that the Storm Lakes Times should be as good at covering Storm Lake as the New York Times is at covering New York, he said. Theres no reason for an editorial writes to Iowa shouldnt be as good as an editorial writes to Washington.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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