The Chicago Headline Club announced that ProPublica and its partners won six Peter Lisagor Awards, recognizing the best journalism produced across Illinois and northwest Indiana, and the Watchdog Award for excellence in public interest reporting. ProPublica projects won two awards in the Best All Media category and four awards in Best Coverage by Subject: Large Print/Online.
Here are the winning projects:
“The Price Kids Pay” by ProPublica reporter Jodi S. Cohen and Tribune reporter Jennifer Smith Richards won for best investigative reporting in both best all media and best coverage by subject: large print/online; best data journalism; best education reporting; and the Watchdog Award. The series was the broadest look ever at school-based ticketing in the country, documenting more than 12,000 tickets issued to students from 2019 to 2021. Dozens of school districts in Illinois, the reporters found, broke state law by referring students to police for truancy.
In exposing this statewide practice, the reporters, along with ProPublica news applications developer Ruth Talbot, built a first-of-its-kind database providing the public with the most comprehensive data set ever of the tickets issued in the state’s schools.
In March, new legislation was introduced by the Illinois House that would amend the state’s school code to make it illegal for school personnel to involve police to issue students citations for incidents that can be addressed through a school’s disciplinary process.
“Stillbirths: When Babies Die Before Taking Their First Breath” by Duaa Eldeib won for best science and technology reporting. The series examines the lack of comprehensive attention and action that has contributed to a stillbirth crisis in the U.S. Eldeib shattered the silence around the more than 20,000 stillbirths that occur every year and uncovered a cascade of failures that have contributed to the U.S. lagging other developed nations in reducing stillbirth rates. She used data and science to counter the disinformation that had flourished after pregnant people were excluded from initial clinical COVID-19 vaccine trials and the CDC dragged out recommending vaccines for them.
A second investigation in the series revealing how racial disparities have compounded the stillbirth crisis won for best reporting on race and diversity. In this piece, Eldeib explained why Black mothers are more than two times more likely to have a stillbirth than white mothers.
With compassion and sensitivity, Eldeib shared the stories of people who have been failed by a health care system that often does not listen to them. Families, medical providers and lawmakers responded to the series, and legislation that was moribund is getting a new push. The National Institutes of Health released a report that mirrored the investigation’s findings, calling the stillbirth rate “unacceptably high” and issuing a series of recommendations to reduce it. Eldeib and Adriana Gallardo also wrote a guide this month to help fill the void of information on stillbirths.
See a list of all this year’s Peter Lisagor Award winners here.