The Chicago Headline Club, the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, named ProPublica Illinois a finalist for 12 Peter Lisagor Awards, including the Watchdog Award and the award for General Excellence in Online Journalism.
The Lisagor Awards honor the best journalism produced throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana. ProPublica Illinois has two of the three finalists for the Watchdog Award, which honors Chicago-area news reporting that calls attention to situations in which the public is being armed or poorly served. Here are the nominated projects.
“The Quiet Rooms,” a collaboration with the Chicago Tribune, is a finalist for the Watchdog Award, best multimedia collaboration, best data journalism, best education reporting, and best series — non-deadline reporting. The series by ProPublica Illinois reporter Jodi S. Cohen, the Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and former ProPublica Illinois reporting fellow Lakeidra Chavis showed how Illinois schools frequently put children in stark “isolated timeout” spaces, or physically restrained them, for reasons that violated state law.
“You’re Destroying Families” by Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib, co-published with the Chicago Sun-Times, is a finalist for the Watchdog Award, best non-deadline reporting and best illustration. This story reveals the failures of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to serve Spanish-speaking families whose children enter the foster care system.
“The Legend of A-N-N-A" by Logan Jaffe is a finalist for best feature story or series. Co-published with The Atlantic, the story uncovered the history of Anna, Illinois, and other “sundown towns” where, historically, black people were not welcome after dark.
“Financial Aid Loophole” by Jodi S. Cohen, Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib is a finalist for best non-deadline reporting. The series revealed that relatively well-off families on Chicago’s North Shore were transferring guardianship of their college-bound teenagers to qualify for financial aid they would not otherwise receive.
Visuals by David Eads and Katlyn Alo for “The Bad Bet” were nominated for best graphics. The collaboration with WBEZ Public Radio shows how the gambling industry’s massive growth in Illinois has fueled an increase in gambling addiction among thousands of residents and ceded outsized political influence to industry insiders, all while failing to deliver the financial windfall lawmakers had promised cash-strapped communities around the state.
See a list of all the Peter Lisagor Award finalists here.