Media Advisory: ‘Storm Lake’ looks at value and challenges facing a family-owned community newspaper

Film featured on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Independent Lens

WV Press Sharing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Press Association is encouraging media members, public officials and West Virginia residents to watch ‘Storm Lake,‘ which was featured on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Independent Lens program.

The film, which premiered on Nov. 15, can now be seen in select showings and at this link: Storm Lake

Click this link to the see the Storm Lake, which starts after the promotional pieces

WV Press Executive Director Don Smith, said the program addresses the issue: Does American democracy survive without the backbone of independent local journalism?

The program looks at The Storm Lake Times, a family-run newspaper serving an Iowa town which has seen its fair share of changes. Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Art Cullen and his family dedicate themselves to keeping the paper alive in an era when local journalism is struggling to survive.


“The fight to save local journalism is occurring across the country and certainly here in West Virginia. This film looks at issues that are reflective of problems community newspapers face in West Virginia and in every other state,” Smith said. “This need and struggle is what prompted WVU’s NewStart.media program, which is working to develop leadership for community newspapers.”

Smith hopes residents will watch Storm Lake.

“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Art Cullen and his family fight to unite and inform their Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper, The Storm Lake Times—come hell or pandemic.

Dark clouds hang over the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its fair share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. The people of Storm Lake confront a changing and precarious existence.

Enter: Cullen and his family members who deliver local news and editorials on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. This paper means a fighting chance for their beloved hometown, and by hook or by crook, they’ll make the most of it. There’s simply too much at stake.”

See the Storm Lake trailer

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