Tiny, family-run newspaper wins Pulitzer Prize for taking on big business – Poynter

If you know Art Cullen, it’s not exactly a surprise to learn his initial words upon watching the livestream of the Pulitzer announcements and learning he’d won for editorial writing.

“Holy shit,” he yelled out to his brother, John, the publisher of the family-run, 10-person Storm Lake (Iowa) Times.

The only surprise was that there wasn’t a longer string of un-family-like adjectives or adverbs.

Big-paper editorial writers, perhaps laboring in well-appointed individual offices in relative urban splendor, be apprised: Writing editorials is merely one of a multiple daily duties of Art Cullen, Monday’s Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial writing.

Sitting in an office he calls a “gray metal wreck,” he’s de facto city editor, part-time reporter and editorial writer at the twice-weekly, 3,000-circulation Storm Lake, Iowa Times.

He won for editorials that confronted the state’s most powerful agricultural interests, which include the Koch Brothers, Cargill and Monsanto, and their secret funding of the government defense of a big environmental lawsuit. His “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing” were quite self-evident if you’ve seen his labor (which actually spanned two years, though he won for last year’s efforts).

But he cranked those out while functioning as a de facto city editor, part-time reporter and editorial writer. He lays out the main news pages and used to run the press until printing was moved to Sheldon, Iowa, an hour away.

“Journalism really matters, and good journalism is being done all around the country,” Cullen, 60, said Monday.

“Art has attacked local farmers, lawyers, county supervisors, Monsanto, the Koch Brothers, agribusiness and the Republican Party — all icons in northwest Iowa,” says Richard Longworth, a retired and esteemed Chicago Tribune reporter and foreign correspondent who has chronicled the changing Midwest economy in recent years for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“He called Sen. (Charles)…

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