BGA Wins Nine Lisagor Awards

Among the prizes are “Best News Website,” podcast honors for “The Madigan Rule,” and investigative awards for two projects “Failures Before the Fires” in collaboration with the Chicago Tribune and “The Costly Toll of Dead-end Drug Arrests” with the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Better Government Association won nine Peter Lisagor Awards for its work in 2021, including top honors for best news website and two investigative collaborations with its partners the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

The BGA was recognized in the categories of best investigative reporting, best multimedia collaboration, best data journalism, best news website, best investigative/public service online reporting, best use of news video online, best online photography, best podcast and best podcast single episode.

It is the most Lisagors the BGA has ever received in a single year.

Long considered the highest local honor in Chicago journalism, the Lisagors are awarded by the Chicago Headline Club. The awards were announced at a dinner on May 6 at the Union League Club. 

Receiving four awards was “Failures Before the Fires,” a collaboration between the BGA and Chicago Tribune. Authored by Madison Hopkins of the BGA and Cecilia Reyes of the Tribune, the series identified 61 people who died by fire in buildings the city had been warned were dangerous.

The project received top honors for best investigative reporting, best multimedia collaboration, best investigative/public service online reporting and best use of news video online.

In addition to Hopkins and Reyes, others named in the awards included Jonathon Berlin, Kaarin Tisue, David Kidwell, Armando Sanchez, Alex Garcia, Andrew Johnston and Olivia Obineme.

The BGA was also honored with two awards for its series “The Costly Toll of Dead-end Drug Arrests,” done in collaboration with the Chicago Sun-Times, and the USC Annenberg National Health Reporting Fellowship as part of The Circuit. 

The project identified thousands of low-level drug arrests in which defendants were arrested and jailed on charges police, prosecutors and judges all knew were never going to stick. The project was authored by the BGA’s Casey Toner and Jared Rutecki, along with Frank Main of the Sun-Times.

It won for best data journalism and best online photography by Pat Nabong, Ashlee Rezin and Joe Klein. Forrest Gregg and Hannah Cushman Garland, of DataMade were also named in the data award.

The BGA was also recognized for best podcast and best podcast single episode for “The Madigan Rule,” a five-part series by Justin Kaufmann examining the career and rise of the longest serving speaker of the house in the nation’s history.

The Chicago Headline Club, the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country, presents awards that recognize the best of Chicago journalism and are named for Peter Lisagor, the Chicago Daily News’ Washington bureau chief from 1959 to 1976. For a complete list of winners, go here.