The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting honor some of the best government-related investigative reporting in Illinois. These Awards recognize the importance of investigative journalism in advancing the principles of democracy.

The mission of the Better Government Association is to shine a light on government and hold public officials accountable. Thanks to the generosity of the Driehaus Foundation we are able to celebrate and reward, with $25,000 in prize money, the work of others in the watchdog fight.

This year’s winners, honored May 1st at City Winery, revealed government secrets and improved our civic life. They exposed abuses in prisons, a flawed property assessment system in Cook County, failures and wrongdoing in the Chicago Police Department and CPS, and lives endangered by state bureaucracy.

The Awards also give us the special opportunity to discuss secrecy and democracy with Daniel Ellsberg, in front of a sold-out audience. In 1971, Mr. Ellsberg revealed the government’s lies and misdeeds in prosecuting the Vietnam War. Publication of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times and the Washington Post, despite threats and lawsuits from the Nixon administration, marked a victory for our free press and helped end the war.

The BGA received dozens of submissions for the Awards, and, as is always the case, while we’re happy to take a break after months of planning, we see the fruits of our labor and are reminded of the crying need for more of this work — so we’ll see you next year.



First Place: $15,000

“The Tax Divide”
Jason Grotto, Sandhya Kambhampati, and Ray Long
ProPublica Illinois and Chicago Tribune

Second Place: $7,000

“Doomed by Delay”
Patricia Callahan
Chicago Tribune

Third Place: $3,000

“Code of Silence”
Phil Rogers, Marion Brooks, Katy Smyser,
Courtney Copenhagen, and Richard Moy

NBC5 Chicago


Finalist: “Police in Chicago Public Schools operate with no special training and little oversight” by Yana Kunichoff (City Bureau and Chicago Reader)

Finalist: “For Illinois Sex Offenders, Six Years Can Turn Into Life In Prison” by Max Green, WBEZ

Video montage of the award finalists (Produced by Mirar Media)



The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, August Bechtner, Barnes & Thornburg, Hyde Park Herald, Illinois Tool Works, The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Loevy & Loevy, and The McCormick Foundation.


The BGA was honored to have Mr. Ellsberg as our featured guest.


Chris Bury, Senior Journalist in Residence, DePaul University

Brant Houston, Professor and Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mike Miner, Chicago Reader

Jackie Spinner, Correspondent, Columbia Journalism Review

Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times