BIG AGRICULTURE: Tiny, Family-Operated Newspaper Given Pulitzer for Taking on Farm Pollution


The truth is often intangible.  There are no size constraints, no terms of measurement available that equate directly to the import of the information at hand.

Sometimes, even the smallest sliver of the truth is all it takes to unleash a furious justice.  There are an unlimited number of analogies and metaphors for this sort of phenomenon.  A brick in the wall.  The straw that broke the camel’s back.  A finger in the dyke.  All of these colorful phrases impart the David vs. Goliath paradigm, all too often an improbable end to a fictitious situation in our modern society.

Yet, sometimes, in some instances, we get the rare opportunity to recognize real warriors of the truth who defy the odds.  In the case of one tiny newspaper in Iowa and their battle against corporate agriculture’s immorality, it seems that a collective celebration could be due.

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“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 Times with his brother John, acknowledged it wasn’t easy taking on agriculture in a state like Iowa where you see hundreds of miles of farm fields in every direction. The Cullens lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.

“’We’re here to challenge people’s assumptions and I think that’s what every good newspaper should do,’ he said.

“Among the other staff members at the Storm Lake Times is John Cullen’s wife Mary, Art’s wife Dolores and their son, Tom. The family’s dog, Mabel also hangs out at the newspaper offices most of the time, Poynter reports.

“Cullen’s writing was lauded by the Pulitzer committee for ‘editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging 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 found 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.”

Big Agriculture has been decimating the small American farmer for decades, with companies such as Monsanto leading the way.  Their corrupt and immoral practices have been squeezing every last bit of profitability from the nation’s backbone in the name of corporate profits at an alarming rate, and we must commend the Storm Lake Times, and others like them, for their brave and brazen reporting on the subjects that matter most to those who provide our nation with food.


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