Film Review: Storm Lake

the newsroom

Back in the day, local newspapers played a vital role in the daily lives of every community across America. Not only were they the single source of information and news about the district, they provided a platform for residents to find, buy and sell services. That all changed with the arrival of the internet. Sales plummeted, as did advertising revenues, and today they’re a dying breed. Propped up by clickbait articles and advertising features. Staffed by massively reduced teams.

Founded in 1990 by John Cullen, the Storm Lake Times is a twice-weekly newspaper which provides news coverage from its base in Storm Lake, Iowa, for Buena Vista County and parts of the surrounding area. A family affair, they continue to educate and inform rural farming communities. Editor Art Cullen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017, but in the face of social media and 24-hour news coverage their existence remains tenuous. Storm Lake follows them as they struggle to survive in an increasingly difficult climate.

Storm Lake is a wonderful documentary which gets into the heart of a news operation to illustrate just how vital a cog it is in the lives of communities. In the face of Trumpism and COVID 19, the struggle to keep their heads above water is increasingly fraught. Beth Levison and Jerry Risius’ documentary follows the team as they go about their daily work. Demonstrating the commitment and determination to provide their readers with reliable and relevant reportage. Storm Lake makes the case for keeping these organisations alive.  

Storm Lake embarks on a US theatrical tour from 17 September.

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