St. Thomas grad turned small-town newspaper editor wins Pulitzer Prize

Art Cullen's exposes on the involvement of big ag in a county pollution lawsuit won him national recognition.

A small newspaper has made a big noise at this year's Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, which were announced on Monday.

Art Cullen plies his trade as the editor of The Storm Lake Times in northwest Iowa, and it's his series of editorials about a standoff between the local water utility and powerful agricultural organizations that gained him a $15,000 prize for editorial writing at the prestigious awards.

While his newspaper only has a circulation of 3,000, his efforts to uncover who was helping to fund three counties fighting a lawsuit the Des Moines Water Works filed over farm pollution has gained him national recognition.

In his series of editorials about government transparency and accountability, which you can read here, the 59-year-old discovered that the three counties – which included his local county – secretly received money from corporate agricultural groups to fight the lawsuit.

According to his Pulitzer Prizes page, Cullen owns The Storm Lake Times with his brother John, and he gained his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

He beat competition from the Washington Post and Houston Chronicle for the prize, which was judged by, among others, an editor at the Wall Street Journal and the editorial director for the Detroit Free Press.

Another Minnesota-related journalist who was up for a prize on Monday was Star Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack, who won a Pulitzer in 2013 but this time finished a runner up to Jim Morin of the Miami Herald.

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