Alumnus and journalist Tom Cullen visits UNI for film screening

Journalist Tom Cullen will be visiting UNI Dec. 2 for a screening of the documentary Storm Lake

Courtesy Photo

Journalist Tom Cullen will be visiting UNI Dec. 2 for a screening of the documentary “Storm Lake”

NI STAFF, NI Editors

Acclaimed ‘Storm Lake’ documentary shows on Dec. 2, followed by Q&A with Cullen

Journalist Tom Cullen, reporter for the Storm Lake Times and a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa’s economics program (B.A., 2015), will return to UNI on Dec. 2 for a screening of “Storm Lake,” the acclaimed documentary about the struggles of the Cullen family’s biweekly newspaper.

The screening will take place in Curris Business Building 109 (John Deere Auditorium) at 6:30 p.m., with a Q&A period with Cullen after the film. Cullen will be introduced by Professor David Surdam, Cullen’s economics advisor at UNI.

Directed by Jerry Risius and Beth Levison, “Storm Lake’’ highlights a family-run paper in Iowa, struggling to keep the business alive and to keep citizens informed as forces conspire to overwhelm their precarious small-town existence. The Hollywood Reporter describes the film as “fascinating subject matter for a portrait of American resilience and unity through fractious times.”

The film paints a picture of a western Iowa community being threatened with change — from corporate to political and environmental forces, all while facing a pandemic.

Leading the charge to keep the community informed is 63-year-old Art Cullen, an old-school journalist who has dedicated his life to his family’s biweekly newspaper, the Storm Lake Times. In 2017, Art won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials that challenged powerful corporate interests and local county officials about the pollution of local waterways.

Tom Cullen, Art’s son, was responsible for much of the Times’ dogged reporting on the region’s water pollution caused by industrial agriculture.

Members of the Cullen family comprise half of the Times’ 10-person team, which also includes Art’s wife Dolores the photographer and culture reporter, his older brother John the publisher, and John’s wife Mary the food columnist.

Tom Cullen’s visit and the screening of “Storm Lake” is presented by the Department of Economics, the Department of Communication & Media, the Department of Political Science, the Economics Club and the UNI American Democracy Project.