Storm Lake newspaper closeup, "The Times Wins the Pulitzer Prize"


November 10-13, 2022 – Fall JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention

Director/producer Beth Levison and impact producer Alice Quinlan attended the National High School Journalism Convention in St. Louis to screen Storm Lake in partnership with the News Literacy Project. This was an incredibly rewarding opportunity to connect with many inspiring educators and student journalists!

There were so many amazing #NHSJC sessions, filled with student journalists and their educators and bringing our team face to face with tomorrow’s journalists. A group of Missourian students from Liberty High School even interviewed Beth for their school’s broadcast news station, the KLHS Bluejays!

April 13, 2022 – Launch of the partnership with News Literacy Project

We’re honored to partner with the News Literacy Project, an incredible organization dedicated to working with educators, journalists and the general public to give students the skills they need to discern fact from fiction and to know what to trust, share and act on. We’re thrilled to announce that the News Literacy Project is making Storm Lake available to teachers for use in their classroom for free, now through June, alongside an in-depth educational viewing guide.

On April 13, 2022, join us for Local News: Teaching with Storm Lake, a free webinar hosted by the News Literacy Project. This will be an opportunity to learn about how educators can use the film to teach students about the power of independent journalism, as well as the crisis local journalism currently faces. Co-director Jerry Risius and film subject Art Cullen join Jill Hofmockel, a NewsLit Nation ambassador and a teacher-librarian at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, and Pamela Brunskill, NLP’s senior manager of education and content, moderated by Miriam Romais, NLP’s senior manager of educator engagement. All attendees will receive a code granting limited-time access to Storm Lake for classroom viewing, as well as a first look at the educational viewing guide.

April 1, 2022 – The Storm Lake Times-Pilot

On April 1st, 2022, The Storm Lake Times Company announced their purchase of the Pilot-Tribune and the Cherokee Chronicle Times. While the Cherokee Chronicle Times will remain as is, The Storm Lake Times has merged with the Pilot-Tribune into a single publication, The Storm Lake Times Pilot. The new paper reports that “all staffers were offered jobs at the same or better pay,” and that the new publication will contain more advertising and pages. To learn more, see this report from the paper, or this article in the Des Moines Register.

November 11, 2021 – PBS Broadcast

Thank you to everyone who joined our watch party to tune into the PBS National Broadcast of Storm Lake on Independent Lens this past Monday! It was so exciting and rewarding to see the film on the air and experience watching it together. We loved seeing folks across the country show their support for local news, journalists and a thriving free press via twitter and instagram!

We hope this national broadcast can ignite important conversation and action by inspiring communities to support their local newspapers.

We’re excited for upcoming festival screenings, our Los Angeles premiere and more as the film continues to be shown across the U.S!

October 29, 2021 – IDA Award Short List

We’re thrilled to announce that Storm Lake has been shortlisted for the International Documentary Association Awards in the Best Feature category! Thank you to IDA for recognizing Storm Lake and the importance of local journalism!

“These shortlists embody a range of cinematic styles, topics, themes and perspectives that reflect the best nonfiction filmmaking from throughout the world,” said Rick Pérez, Executive Director of IDA. “From the urgent, to the poetic and profound, these films capture the unique way the documentary film is in dialogue with the national and global cultural landscape.”

We’re honored to be highlighted on a list that was selected from 314 film submissions across 58 countries.

May 5, 2021 – Full Frame Festival Premiere

Storm Lake celebrated its festival premiere at Full Frame Film Festival this past week! To accompany the festival premiere we held a special virtual panel ‘Sustaining the Future of Local News’ in partnership with Full Frame and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy which featured film subject and Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, publisher of the News Report of Whieville, NC, Les High,  Editor of Storm Lake’s spanish language newspaper La Prensa and film subject, Lorena Lopez, and visiting professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Penny Abernathy.

It was an engaging and enlightening conversation that highlighted the need to protect and support quality local journalism that served to highlight the close relationships local news outlets have with their communities. To quote Les Hight, “I can assure you that if you get something wrong, and you go to church on Sunday, you’re going to hear about it.” You can watch the full panel for yourself on our youtube channel here! This is just the first of many film festivals Storm Lake will be part of in the coming months! We can’t wait to bring you more exciting events and conversations centered around the film. Be sure to check our screenings page to stay up to date on when and where you can catch the film!


“STORM LAKE is an elegiac heartland portrait...colored by the hope of endurance, both for the newspaper and the community it represents.””

The Hollywood Reporter– David Rooney, June 28, 2021

“Jerry Risius and Beth Levison’s warm and biting profile of the editorial team that puts out The Storm Lake Times stirs up hope that small local newspapers, and journalism itself, can survive.”

The Boston Globe– Peter Keough, October 7, 2021

“Beth Levison and Jerry Risius’s profound documentary is simultaneously a love letter to and a eulogy for local news—even more than that, it’s a sincere inquiry into the meaning of community and the role played by the dissemination of information in holding together further distabled societal connections. I laughed out loud at times and tearfully celebrated and mourned this endangered medium.”

Chicago Reader– Kathleen Sachs, September 24, 2021

“STORM LAKE provides a penetrating, insider look at the struggle of a family-owned-and-operated newspaper trying to remain relevant, survive, and thrive in the age of journalism-by-the-algorithms, Trumpism, and COVID-19.”

The Progressive– Ed Rampell, June 1, 2021

“STORM LAKE isn’t eventually a document of what could be lost, but rather as it currently stands, a galvanizing depiction of what is gained from having strong community coverage that happens to double as a lovely portrait of a charming family business.”

The Moveable Fest– Stephen Saito, June 2, 2021

“STORM LAKE reminds us that we cannot be complacent. We cannot take democracy for granted. And local reporting is a mainstay of an informed citizenry and therefore democracy.”

Des Moines Register– Julie Gammack, June 8, 2021

“Gorgeous establishing shots, great music, and fantastic narration, all of which blend together, allowing Beth Levison and Jerry Risius to tell the true tale of Storm Lake, Iowa.”

Film Threat– Liam Trump, June 3, 2021


Jumpcut Online– Mary Palmer, June 2, 2021

“This charming film reminds us of the value and impact of inductive and localized reporting.”

Saathee Magazine– Dilip Barman, June 15, 2021

“Here’s a paean to journalism, old style. It’s also a near obituary for shoe leather journalism as it was practiced, especially in America’s small towns. It is also a chronicle of a close-knit family, the Cullens, who don’t want their decades-long work to die along with America’s small newspapers. Told in the no-nonsense tones of the laconic Midwest, STORM LAKEv mixes a bit of Lake Woebegone with ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.”

Hill Rag– Mike Canning, July 7, 2021