The Better Government Association received 13 Peter Lisagor award nominations for its work in 2020. The Lisagors, which are awarded by the Chicago Headline Club, are long considered the highest local honor in Chicago journalism.
The BGA was nominated in categories for best investigative reporting, best multimedia collaboration, best data journalism, best in-depth news story or series, best commentary, best non-deadline reporting, best in-depth report or series, best business or consumer reporting, and general excellence in online journalism.
Receiving five nominations was “The Circuit” a collaboration between three Chicago-based news organizations — the BGA, Injustice Watch and the Chicago Reporter — and civic tech firm DataMade. The project, which remains ongoing, had reporters and editors gather, organize and analyze decades of data from the Cook County Circuit Court system. The work was assisted by researchers from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
“The Circuit,” has so far published a pair of stories about an overlooked but essential legal maneuver used in the courts and a massive data visualization documenting two decades worth of criminal charges in Cook County. The project was nominated for best investigative reporting, best investigative/public service reporting, best data journalism, best multimedia feature presentation and best series-non-deadline reporting.
In addition, the BGA’s investigative reporting team received two nominations for an investigation with WBEZ-Chicago Public Radio into Amazon’s massive, taxpayer-funded expansion in Illinois. The BGA also received nominations for a story about Illinois’ lax approach to tracking and supporting minority-owned businesses; a collaboration with Chalkbeat Chicago about Chicago public schools’ COVID-19 spending; a collaboration with several Chicago media outlets examining Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s tenure; and an examination with the Chicago Sun-Times into the election spending limits imposed as part of statewide campaign reform effort. The entire investigative staff received a nomination for general excellence in online journalism. Columns written by BGA CEO David Greising also were nominated.
The Chicago Headline Club is the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country. Winners will be announced virtually on May 14. See the full list of finalists here.