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ProPublica Illinois Earns 13 Nominations for Peter Lisagor Awards From the Chicago Headline Club

The Chicago Headline Club, the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, named ProPublica Illinois a finalist for 13 Peter Lisagor Awards. The Lisagor Awards honor the best journalism produced throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana.

ProPublica Illinois received five nominations in the All Media categories, which span all news mediums and platform sizes, and eight nominations in the Online Media categories — including General Excellence in Online Journalism. These projects reflect the depth and range of the newsroom’s collective efforts, from features, original video and illustrations, to blog posts and investigative reporting. Winners will be announced on May 10.

The finalists are:

Best All Media

  • Driven Into Debt, for best investigative reporting and best data journalism. The series, initiated by ProPublica Illinois and continued in partnership with WBEZ Chicago, outlines how the city of Chicago drives its residents into bankruptcy through ticketing practices that disproportionately affect black neighborhoods and motorists who can least afford the fines and fees.

  • Hidden in Plain Sight, for best investigative reporting and best illustration. At the outset of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, four stories quickly uncovered the secretive network of Illinois shelters that serve as detention facilities for immigrant children.

  • We Will Keep on Fighting for Him,” for best feature story. As part of the $3 Million Research Breakdown investigative series, the feature details the heartbreak and struggle of a family caught up in a child psychiatry study gone awry — and blends deep original reporting with a mother’s journal entries and present-day reflections by her and her son.

Online Media

  • Stuck Kids, for best non-deadline reporting series. The series showed how the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services fails to find appropriate homes for young people with mental illness, holding some children and teens in psychiatric hospitals even after they’ve been cleared for release, with serious consequences for their health and well-being.

  • Politic-IL Insider, for best continuing blog and best individual blog post. The online investigative column from Mick Dumke provides a close look at political issues such as government transparency, civil liberties and criminal justice.

  • Going Bankrupt Over Ticket Debt in Chicago,” for best use of features video. The three-minute video profiled one woman’s descent into bankruptcy and illustrated inequities in Chicago’s vehicle ticketing system.

  • Driven Into Debt, for best investigative/public service reporting. In addition to the series, an online news application, The Ticket Trap, shows how Chicago’s reliance on ticketing for revenue affects motorists across the city. The interactive database allows users to search more than 54 million tickets issued since 1996.

  • We Will Keep on Fighting for Him,” for best multimedia feature presentation and best feature story or series. Part of a series of stories that revealed misconduct in a research trial at the University of Illinois at Chicago for children with bipolar disorder, this interactive story highlighted a mother’s journal entries alongside present-day annotations, and used family photos, video and audio clips to intimately reveal the challenges of raising a child with mental illness.

In addition, reporting fellow Lakeidra Chavis was named a Radio Broadcast finalist in Best Health or Science Reporting for “Chicago’s Black Communities Hit Hardest In Opioid Overdoses,” a project that aired during her prior stint with WBEZ Chicago.

ProPublica Illinois, founded in 2017, is the first regional publishing operation of ProPublica, dedicated to stories about big issues that affect people living and working in the state. For the full list of Peter Lisagor Awards nominees, visit the Chicago Headline Club’s website.

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