DMPL Podcast: 'Storm Lake' Author Art Cullen

Art Cullen

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Today on the blog, we have a podcast for you! Art Cullen is the long-time editor of The Storm Lake Times in Storm Lake, IA. He won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for his work about the role deceptive agricultural corporations played in a water pollution lawsuit between three rural Iowa counties and Des Moines Water Works. In the wake of that award, Cullen was approached by a handful of publishers about writing a book. He wrote Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspapera book about both his life and the life of a community in northwest Iowa that has been challenged by changes in the meat-packing industry and shaped by diversity.

Cullen and host Aaron Gernes talk about practicing journalism in a small community, balancing reporting and the business side. "Generally, if you do your job with fairness and honesty... people respect that," says Cullen. "But if you come in with an attitude like 'I'm right and you're wrong,'... then you're going to get in trouble."

Cullen believes that The Storm Lake Times has had a positive impact on the community's large immigrant population. He says more than 30 languages are spoken at the elementary school. “As we’re learning these days, words do matter… if you treat people as invaders, they’ll be viewed as invaders," says Cullen. "If you treat people as neighbors, they’ll be viewed as neighbors. We’ve always called them ‘our new neighbors.’”

Also discussed: The differences in editorial writing and writing a book, how he felt when he won the Pulitzer, and the things he finds most challenging in the newsroom.