BGA named Lisagor Prize finalists 21 times

The Association for Better Government received 21 nominations for the Peter Lisagor Award in 15 categories for his work in 2021. The Lisagors, awarded by the Chicago Headline Club, have long been considered Chicago journalism’s highest local honor.

Among the categories in which the BGA was nominated are Best Investigative Reporting, Best Multimedia Collaboration, Best Data Journalism, Best In-Depth News Report or Series, Best Race and Diversity Reporting, best news website, best podcast, best no-deadline report, best in-depth report or series, public service, best use of news video, best online photography.

The “Failures Before the Fires” investigation received six nominations, a collaboration with the Chicago Tribune, which found dozens of fire deaths in buildings City Hall had long known were fire traps. The project, from journalists Madison Hopkins and Cecelia Reyes, was nominated for Best Investigative Reporting, Best Investigative/Public Service Reporting, Best Data Journalism, Best In-Depth Reporting, Best Multimedia Collaboration and best use of news video – a category in which Olivia Obineme, Armando L. Sanchez and Alex Garcia were also nominated.

Receiving four nominations was “The Costly Toll of Dead End Drug Arrests,” a collaboration with the Chicago Sun-Times, which uncovered thousands of low-level drug arrests that cost taxpayers millions, even though the cases are rarely pursued.

The project, from journalists Frank Main, Casey Toner and Jared Rutecki, was nominated for Best Investigative Reporting, Best Multimedia Collaboration, Best Data Journalism and Best Online Photography.

Three-time nominated “Milking Medicaid,” a BGA series that revealed how privatization shifted hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to insurance companies and away from medical providers and Medicaid recipients.

The series, from journalists David Jackson and Kira Leadholm, was nominated for Best Investigative Reporting, Best In-Depth Reporting and Best Online Series.

Jackson was also nominated for Best Online COVID-19 Reporting for his work with Block Club Chicago reporter Kelly Bauer on tampered vaccines distributed by Loretto Hospital.

The Loretto series was also nominated for the prestigious Watchdog Award.

A BGA/Injustice Watch report titled “Fewer people in Cook County are being charged with crimes” also received three nominations. Why do blacks make up a larger share of the accused? which examined growing racial disparities in criminal courts.

The story, by reporters Josh McGee and Jared Rutecki, was nominated for Best Data Journalism, Best Race and Diversity Reporting, and Best Online Story Without a Deadline.

Additionally, the BGA was nominated for Best News Site and Best Podcast for its series “The Madigan Rulehosted and produced by Justin Kaufmann.

The Chicago Headline Club is the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The winners will be announced at a dinner on May 6 at the Union League Club in Chicago, where the Headline Club will also celebrate its centennial. See the full list of finalists here.

Andrew B. Reiter