Four ProPublica Illinois projects were recognized Monday by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting and the National Headliner Awards.
Administered by the Better Government Association, the Driehaus Foundation Awards highlight the impact of investigative reporting in Illinois to address state and local government waste, fraud and corruption. Two investigative series from ProPublica Illinois were among the six finalists announced Monday:
- “Stuck Kids,” led by reporter Duaa Eldeib, revealed how the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has failed to find appropriate homes for young people with mental illness, holding some children and teenagers in psychiatric hospitals after they’ve been cleared for release, with serious consequences for their health and well-being.
- “Driven Into Debt,” a series initiated by ProPublica Illinois and continued in partnership with WBEZ Chicago, examined how the city of Chicago has driven residents into bankruptcy through ticketing practices that disproportionately affect black neighborhoods and motorists who can least afford the fines and fees. ProPublica Illinois reporter Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ Chicago’s digital editor Elliott Ramos led the collaboration.
Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalism excellence. ProPublica Illinois received two awards in the online categories:
- Politic-IL Insider, third place for best blog. The online investigative column from Mick Dumke provides a closer look at political issues in Illinois, including government transparency, civil liberties and criminal justice. Dumke was the first reporter to obtain and publish Chicago’s controversial gang database. His column detailing its many errors and gaps not only drew national media attention, but it forced the Police Department to promise reforms and was cited in a federal lawsuit claiming the database is inaccurate and discriminatory.
- “We Will Keep on Fighting for Him,” third place for best web or interactive project. The interactive feature was part of The $3 Million Research Breakdown investigative series, which revealed misconduct in a research trial at the University of Illinois at Chicago for children with bipolar disorder. The story highlighted one mother’s journal entries alongside present-day annotations, and it used family photos, video and audio clips along with original reporting to intimately reveal the challenges of raising a child with mental illness. ProPublica Illinois reporters Jodi S. Cohen and Logan Jaffe and ProPublica editorial experience designer Rob Weychert collaborated on the interactive feature.
Winners of the Driehaus Foundation Awards will be announced on May 21, when the top three honorees will receive cash prizes totalling $26,000.