Art Cullen owns the 3,000 -circulation Storm Lake Times with his brother John. His spouse and son likewise work at the paper
A small-town Iowa newspaper with a staff of 10 people – most of whom are related to each other has won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural companies over farm pollution.
Art Cullen, who owns the Storm Lake Timeswith his brother John, recognise it wasnt easy taking on agriculture in a state like Iowa where you insure hundreds of miles of farm realms in every direction. The Cullens lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.
Were here to challenge peoples presumptions and I think thats what every good newspaper should do, he told.
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 agencies most of the time, Poynter reports.
Cullens writing was lauded by the Pulitzer committee for editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and involving writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.
As well as hard-hitting news and editorials, the paper also includes local stories. On Monday, a front-page story told of how a second-grader find 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 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 districts sued by Des Moines Water Works for allowing too much nitrogen to be released through farm drainage systems into rivers from which the utility describes its clean drinking water. The districts opposed the federal suit using fund provided by undisclosed sources.
The newspaper worked with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council to force the release of documents demonstrating funding received 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.
It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is making oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial reservoirs. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the main victims of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.
Cullen, 59, says he feelings vindicated that the information was released.
A judge, nonetheless, rejected the sea utilitys suit last month, giving “the farmers ” groups and districts a clear victory.
Cullen is proud that the Pulitzer committee recognised his small newspapers endeavours alongside those of larger papers. The two other finalists in the editorial writing category were from the Houston Chronicle and The Washington Post.
Weve ever 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 told. Theres no reason why an editorial writes to Iowa shouldnt be as good as an editorial writes to Washington.
Associated Press contributed to this report