BGA Earns National Headliner Award Honors

Investigation into mayor’s insider deals and nepotism in southwest suburban Lyons recognized in one of the nation’s oldest journalism contests.

The Better Government Association has been recognized with a National Headliner Award for its investigative stories into southwest suburban Lyons and insider deals the mayor oversaw, including the questionable purchase of his own home.

The work placed third for online investigative reporting. 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.

The first story, “Small Town Government, Chicago-style Politics,” detailed Mayor Christopher Getty’s efforts to restore a family fiefdom and transform the financially ailing government under his control into a stronghold of nepotism and cozy deals.

It also raised questions about Getty’s purchase of his home, which the mayor bought after the village, under his direction, demolished a run-down house, bought the land and sold it at a loss to a Getty campaign contributor who turned around and sold it to the mayor without ever listing it on the open market. The BGA’s Casey Toner partnered with Fox 32-Chicago’s Dane Placko on that story.

Toner continued to follow the story and then, four months after the initial story was published, federal law enforcement officials raided the Lyons Village Hall, seeking documents that were detailed in the initial story. The raid is part of a sweeping corruption investigation that has touched towns and government officials across the Chicago region.

The Chicago-based nonprofit news organization Injustice Watch won first place in the category for “In Plain View,” reporting on how social media posts by hundreds of law enforcement officers in eight cities reflected racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia. The Center for Investigative Reporting finished second.

The BGA, a nearly century-old Chicago-based nonprofit news organization, has received nine national and regional journalism honors since 2019.