The Better Government Association has a 99-year history of exposing failures of government in Chicago and Illinois. Today, we set a new course, with two new websites: Think of us as a century-old startup, fashioned to serve as a fulcrum for positive change across Illinois.
Solutions journalism is a centerpiece of our new news website, called Illinois Answers Project. It joins the deep-dive investigative reporting that this year earned us a Pulitzer Prize. Our separate, policy-focused website — called BGA Policy — will present analysis and advocacy for more open, equitable and accountable government to better serve the people of our state.
Solutions journalism applies the BGA’s rigorous investigative techniques toward identifying government and private-sector initiatives that actually work. When Illinois Answers reporters find proof of success, we will bring the news to our readers. And when our city and state leaders tout solutions, we will examine, analyze and report on what is and isn’t working. Meanwhile, our investment in traditional, deep-dive investigations will continue and grow.
“Answers” has dual meanings. One pertains to the journalist’s traditional search for truth. We demand answers from those in power. The second applies to solutions journalism: Finding positive answers that address the complex and difficult challenges facing Chicago and Illinois. This new website and other upgrades at the BGA are made possible by a major grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Illinois Answers Project reporting will focus on the topics that most concern people today: public safety and criminal justice; equity and economic opportunity; education; and government finance and accountability. And we will leverage the resources of Chicago’s vibrant news ecosystem—and expand our reach statewide—by partnering on projects and publishing work from other newsrooms, all to bring you an efficient and comprehensive read on the key issues facing us all.
The BGA Policy website will operate autonomously, underscoring the long-standing independence of the Better Government Association’s policy arm from our news operation. The new website will more effectively showcase our policy team’s incisive analysis and potent advocacy for reform. Interactive features will give you new tools for following legislation, filing your own public records requests and communicating directly with your elected officials.
After all, you are the central focus of both BGA Policy and the Illinois Answers Project. We will actively engage you through newsletters, podcasts and community events. We will share ideas and connect you with people in a position to make life better in our state. We are launching three newsletters this month and encourage you to subscribe for free to each of them.
All of us live in Illinois, and we all share a need for better government. Please join us, on both websites, as we address the important issues facing our city and state. We’ve been at it for nearly 100 years, and along with you, we’re just getting started.
President and CEO
Better Government Association