Rising To The Top

Storm Lake
Stars: Jill Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, and commentary from Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren
Directors: Beth Levison and Jerry Risius
Cinematography: Jerry Risius
CPB/Foothill Productions
Not rated
Running Length: 95 minutes 

We all know about “The Little Engine That Could,” and now we have the little newspaper that could.  In a town of 10,000 people, a weekly newspaper is a must. Meeting outside the post office to talk doesn’t cover everything, so, Storm Lake, IA. has the Storm Lake Times. Storm Lake is in Buena Vista County, and is 95 miles from the southern Minnesota border.  With a small-town newspaper, what you get is fair play. There are just so many businesses and people to buy ads and keep the paper going, so honesty is essential. Art Cullen, editor, won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 2017.  How often does that happen in a small town? 

The Storm Lake Times was founded in 1990 by John Cullen, and it is the Cullen family who own, write and keep the paper going.  It truly is a family project. Tom Cullen, Art’s son, is a reporter. A large part of my life has been in newspaper work, and I took one look at Tom Cullen’s desk top and thought, “This is familiar.” Other Cullen members do various things each week to keep the paper going.  There is even a news hound, yes, Peach the dog, is at work every day in the office. Would you get this at a big city paper? Editor, Art explains why he wears a bow tie. In olden days, those who wore long ties sometimes got them caught in the machinery 

The news that is covered in Iowa, concerns large companies coming into the town and then follows immigrant labor looking for work.  Storm Lake has adjusted to Latino and Laos. Plus, when elections occur, the Iowa Caucus is always big news.  In this case, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are two of the people interviewed. So, you see, sometimes, living in a small town doesn’t mean looking for news, the news is looking for you instead. 

Photography is beautifully done and those who have never been to Iowa, will be amazed at the sunsets, lakes, and snow which means ice fishing, a northern hobby. Camera follows individuals as they make their rounds from delivering papers to interviewing to selling ads to sports and even a decision as to whether to continue carrying the weekly television schedules or not. Small Town America has a pleasant ring to it. 


Copyright 2021 Marie Asner