Art Cullen
Art Cullen

Humanities Iowa is sponsoring An Evening With Art Cullen, the Storm Lake Times co-owner and 2017 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, in Carroll on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Cullen will speak about his book, “Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope From a Heartland Newspaper,” at 7 p.m. at Des Moines Area Community College’s Carroll campus in a forum in which he will be interviewed in public by Douglas Burns of the Daily Times Herald. Cullen will field questions from audience members as well.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by DMACC, The Daily Times Herald and Mellon Foundation. Cullen’s book will be released nationally Oct. 2, but it has earned top reviews already.

The Carroll event will focus on Cullen’s thoughts on rural Iowa, journalism and politics.

The Daily Times Herald has regularly published Cullen’s columns and editorials for years.

“As more and more newspapers are consumed by corporations and the shareholder shackles that come with Wall Street ties, it’s harder and harder to find fearless newspaper owners willing to tell truth to power — damn the torpedoes from readers and advertisers,” said Burns, a friend of Cullen’s and co-owner of The Daily Times Herald. “Art is the best editorial writer in the state. His opinion pieces involve in-depth reporting and an unrivaled knowledge and love of Buena Vista County. I admire him. It’s not easy being a quickly recognized iconoclast in a small town.”

Cullen, 60, is known by his peers to generally eschew journalism awards. Judges are fickle. He often points to the time that his mentor, Michael Gartner, won a Pulitzer for editorial writing in 1997 but was defeated for a similar statewide award.

At one point, Cullen told himself: “I’m not entering another contest in my life. Gartner said I’m the best editorial writer out there, and I said, ‘(expletive) that, that’s good enough for me.’ ”

But when Cullen reviewed his editorials, in which he blasted lawmakers and powerful agriculture lobbyists for blocking improvements to the state’s water quality, he thought he had a surefire Pulitzer winner.

Here’s a sample:

“Anyone can see how filthy Storm Lake is, how the Des Moines River near Humboldt is a mud flow, how shallow lakes in Northwest Iowa have eroded into duck marshes,” Cullen wrote in March 2016.

“Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America. It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.”