Left to right: Tom, Art and John Cullen Photo by Dolores Cullen

Left to right: Tom, Art and John Cullen
Photo by Dolores Cullen

Art Cullen is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and co-owner of The Storm Lake Times, Buena Vista County’s Hometown Newspaper. In 2017, Art was awarded the 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.”

Art has built his newspaper’s reputation on honest reporting and uncompromising editorial stances. He won the Pulitzer for a series of editorials in 2016 where he waded into a complex controversy regarding the pollution of drinking water and the intersection of government and big agricultural interests. In 2016, Art’s home county of Buena Vista County was one of three rural counties being sued by the municipal Water Works of the Iowa state capital of Des Moines for permitting excessive levels of nitrate (a byproduct of farm fertilizer) to be released into the rivers and waterways that provide 500,000 Central Iowa consumers with drinking water. 

The counties were paying their legal fees with mysterious money from undisclosed sources. This was a contentious issue pitting “big city” vs. “small town” — but in the interest of promoting government transparency and accountability, Art dove in. Working with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, Art helped force the release of documents, which proved that the rural counties’ legal funding was coming from the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and huge corporations woven into the modern world ag supply chain. 

Art is a native of Storm Lake and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has more than 38 years of journalism experience, and has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Storm Lake, Algona, Ames and Mason City, Iowa. The Storm Lake Times is a family-owned, family-operated newspaper; Art’s brother John is the founder and publisher, Art’s wife Dolores works as a photographer, and Art’s son Tom is a reporter. The Storm Lake Times, with a circulation of 3,000 readers, is the 2nd-smallest newspaper to win a Pulitzer Prize. 

Art Cullen’s Pulitzer was a triumph of brave, honest reporting overcoming powerful corporate interests. His newspaper lost a few subscribers and advertisers as a result — some people felt like he was siding with the “big city” over his own “small town.” But Art did what he believed was right, and was rewarded with journalism’s highest honor.  

In addition to encouraging you to buy his book, Art Cullen is happy to share the spotlight with a few special organizations that are close to his heart:

Buy the book: Storm Lake