The Chicago Headline Club, the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, named ProPublica and its partners as finalists for 11 Peter Lisagor Awards. The Lisagor Awards honor the best journalism produced across Illinois and northwest Indiana.
ProPublica received three nominations in the best all media categories and eight nominations in the best coverage by subject (large print/online) categories. Nominated projects include those in collaboration with the Chicago Tribune and WTTW Chicago.
Here are the nominated projects:
“The Price Kids Pay” by ProPublica reporter Jodi S. Cohen and Tribune reporter Jennifer Smith Richards is a finalist for best investigative reporting, best data journalism, online-best investigating reporting and online-best education reporting. 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.
“Stillbirths: When Babies Die Before Taking Their First Breath” by Duaa Eldeib is a finalist for best feature or human interest series, online-best feature reporting series, online-best investigative reporting and online-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 its stillbirth rate. A second investigation by Eldeib revealing how racial disparities have compounded the stillbirth crisis is a finalist for online-best reporting on race and diversity.
“Chicago’s ‘Race-Neutral’ Traffic Cameras Ticket Black and Latino Drivers the Most” by Emily Hopkins and Melissa Sanchez is a finalist for online-best reporting on race and diversity. Hopkins and Sanchez examined the disparities in camera ticketing itself, not just the financial consequences. Hopkins and Sanchez showed that motorists from Chicago’s majority Black and Hispanic ZIP codes received tickets at around twice the rate of those from white areas between 2015 and 2019. The citations have resulted in steep fines and fees for Chicago’s Black neighborhoods, which collectively have been ordered to pay more than half a billion dollars in penalties over the last 15 years. As a result, thousands of Chicago residents have had their lives disrupted by vehicle impoundments, driver’s license suspensions and bankruptcies. The investigation also exposed how city officials were aware of the racial disparities at the same time that they made changes to increase the number of tickets that the cameras could issue.
A series of stories revealing how community leaders, local politicians and families seeking homes have been frustrated by the Chicago Housing Authority’s delays and unfulfilled promises is a finalist for online-best community reporting. Former ProPublica reporter Mick Dumke and WTTW reporter Nick Blumberg reported on the CHA’s plans to turn over prime vacant land to a soccer team owned by a billionaire supporter of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. ProPublica also revealed how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allowed the CHA to sell, lease and give away parcels of land it says it no longer needs, even though its redevelopment work is far from done. These stories led to a new public awareness of the CHA’s sputtering efforts and prompted tough questions from city aldermen.
See a list of all the Peter Lisagor Award finalists here.