The Storm Lake Times is a twice-weekly newspaper based in Storm Lake, Iowa covering Buena Vista County and parts of Clay, Pocahontas, Sac, Ida and Cherokee counties. The inaugural issue was published on Friday, June 29, 1990, with a full-time staff of just three persons in a 20-by-20 foot one-room office at 521 Michigan Street in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Within a year of opening, the weekly newspaper rapidly outgrew its original office and moved to larger quarters at 210 East Fifth Street, across from the Buena Vista County Courthouse. At that time the paper’s circulation had increased from an initial 1,800 to nearly 4,000 copies every Friday. Initially, The Times was printed at Buena Vista Stationery and Printing, but with the growing number of pages and the need for color photographs, printing operations were moved to Le Mars, Iowa.
In March 1993, The Times began publishing daily, a first in Storm Lake's 125-year history. Three weeks later the rival newspaper in town also went daily, and for 10 months Storm Lake attracted national attention as the smallest city in America with competing daily newspapers. Coinciding with The Times’ switch to daily publication was construction of a new office and printing plant at 220 West Railroad Street (Times Square), which could accommodate staff offices and a six-unit Harris offset printing press.
The Times switched to twice-weekly publication (Wednesday and Saturday) in January 1994. Several years later the rival newspaper gave up daily publishing as well. In November 2001 The Times switched from the familiar tabloid format to broadsheet because of increasing pressure within the newspaper industry to standardize page sizes. The move to a larger page was welcomed by readers and advertisers alike.
The Storm Lake Times was the first newspaper in Iowa to be composed entirely on computer (pagination). The Times was also one of the first newspapers in the state to have an imagesetter, an electronic film machine that allowed staff to produce the highest quality type and photographs, in both color and black and white. In 2004, The Times became the second newspaper in Iowa (after the Des Moines Register) to adopt computer-to-plate electronic imaging which improved printing quality even more.
-Oct. 20, 2007, The Times was mentioned by The New York Times and ABC's George Stephanopoulos and gained national attention for being the first newspaper to endorse a presidential candidate. Written by editor Art Cullen and entitled Biden For President the piece stated the case for then-Delaware senator and current Vice President Joe Biden to be elected.
-May 7, 2008, The Times again received national attention for a story written by reporter Jake Kurtz about Dale Davis, a blind, World War II veteran who bowled a perfect 300 game at Century Lanes in Alta, Iowa.
-Nov. 3, 2009, Times editor Art Cullen testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in Washington, D.C., on the impact of health care costs on small businesses in America. The appearance came at the request of a longtime friend, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
At a glance
-The Storm Lake Times is the only locally-owned newspaper in Buena Vista County, and the only newspaper still printed within the county's borders. It also has the largest readership of any newspaper in Buena Vista County.
-The Times printing press produces more than 1.8 million copies of publications per year. In addition to the newspaper twice a week, The Times also prints the liberal Progressive Populist (twice monthly political publication), four Northwest Iowa school alumni publications, as well as various other printing jobs. Its platesetter also produces high resolution printing plates for other area printers. The Times press can print up to 12 broadsheet pages per section with color photos, at a speed of 15,000 copies per hour.
-An average issue of The Times includes 50+ news and sports photographs, about one-third of them in color.
-The Times sports department covers 8 high schools (Storm Lake, Storm Lake St. Mary's, Alta, Newell-Fonda, Schaller-Crestland, Sioux Central, Aurelia, Laurens-Marathon) and one college (Buena Vista University).
-Nearly 600 area cooks have been featured in the popular “My Favorite Recipes” weekly feature.
-Each issue of The Times is has three sections (Front/News, Sports, Family & Friends). Additional special sections include:
The Green Saver — regional advertising guide that reaches 24,000 homes in western Iowa, Wednesdays
TV Times — television listings, Saturdays
FarmTimes — local farm coverage
GoldenTimes — for senior citizens, odd-numbered months
Health & Fitness — wellness and recreation, even-numbered months
HomeTimes — home improvement, monthly March–October
Prep Sports Previews — quarterly