An engaging storyteller, Cullen recounts the deeds (and misdeeds) of youth, but his writer’s passion shines when he discusses the events that led him to write the prize-winning editorials ... The moral, economic, and social history of a small town in Iowa might not seem like much of a story, but in Cullen’s hands, it is.
This book, though, feels rushed. Too much of Storm Lake consists of broadsides, suppositional reporting and thinly drawn character sketches. Cullen has an unfortunate tendency toward armchair editorializing rather than grounded reporting ... While Cullen’s writing is impassioned, a plea for the rest of us not to dismiss places like Storm Lake, the prose too often feels careless and imprecise ... I don’t mean to sound cranky, but this book feels like a missed opportunity... I wanted to cherish this book, to feel I could pass it on to young aspiring reporters, to get them to consider working at papers like The Storm Lake Times.
In Storm Lake, a collection of memoiristic essays, Art Cullen makes a strong and eloquent case that his home state is hardly an outlier to these shifts, but more of a microcosm of national trends ... This little newspaper’s survival in this shifting economic and social landscape is a story Cullen tells with a self-effacing, homespun honesty — and not without a little well-earned pride ... the man prints the truth.
... [a] moving story about small town life in Iowa, a place [Cullen] calls home ... The pages of Storm Lake clearly demonstrate why Cullen won journalism’s most revered prize ... You’ve got to love [Cullen]. On one level, Storm Lake is an engaging, folksy read about how a small-town newspaper editor copes with existential threats to a way of life and an industry vital to American democracy in a state known for its extremes of weather, economics, and politics. He tells good stories and writes with a journalistic flair that prefers punch to polish ... Storm Lake has its faults. Cullen’s folksy style sometimes leaves a reader confused about exactly who he is referring to when he talks of small-town life and his neighbors ... Overall, though, Cullen’s book demonstrates the important role that local editors play in standing up and speaking to power in America despite the existential problems that face journalism, particularly local journalism.
Part memoir and family history, Cullen’s sharp political critique chronicles the dramatic changes and challenges faced by Storm Lake in the last four decades ... An impassioned, significant book from a newsman who made a difference.
Composed of political history, tales of civic controversies, and human interest stories, the subject matter is elevated by Cullen’s passion into parables relevant to all Americans ... At times Cullen dives too deeply into the minutiae of Storm Lake’s history, but he nevertheless remains informative. Journalism buffs will understand the struggles he faces of keeping a small publication in print with a circulation of just 3,000 and will marvel at his resourcefulness. Cullen’s portrayal of the daily livelihood of Midwesterners gives a window into small-town America.