The Better Government Association has named eight investigative projects as finalists for the 2022 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting.

These annual awards honor Illinois’ top achievements in investigative journalism focused on government. Winners will be announced at a live ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 at City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph St. The winners will share $27,000 in prizes.

The celebration will feature a conversation with special guest David Barstow, a former senior writer at The New York Times and the first reporter to win four Pulitzer Prizes. Barstow also is the Reva and David Logan distinguished chair in investigative journalism at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

New this year, the BGA will recognize news organizations in a Small Newsrooms category in addition to the main category and the annual Readers’ Choice Award. The Small Newsrooms category is designed to recognize investigative and enterprising journalism by newsrooms headquartered in Illinois with an editorial staff of 25 or fewer people and those based outside the Chicago market.

“At a time when newsroom budgets are under pressure and the very idea of factual news is under attack, we are honored to recognize this great work by journalists from across the state,” said David Greising, president of the BGA. “We added the Small Newsrooms category this year to recognize the particular challenges these journalists can face, and the number and quality their entries shows that the resourcefulness and grit of investigative reporting still thrives in newsrooms big and small.”

The finalists for the main category are:

  • “Improper Vaccinations at Loretto Hospital” by Kelly Bauer for Block Club Chicago

  • “Buried Secrets” by Dan Mihalopoulos, reporter; Alex Keefe, editor; Angela Rozas O’Toole, senior editor for WBEZChicago

  • “Drowning in Debt” by María Inés Zamudio, reporter of race, class and communities; story edited by Alden Loury, senior editor of race, class and communities; data editing by Matt Kiefer, data editor; graphic design and layout by Mary Hall; photography by Manuel Martinez; community engagement by Kat Nagasawa; web interactive and data visualization by Charmaine Runes for WBEZChicago

  • “GI Bill snafus widespread, longstanding” by Stephanie Zimmermann for the Chicago Sun-Times

The finalists for the Small Newsrooms category are:

  • “Illinois Has a Program to Compensate Victims of Violent Crimes. Few Applicants Receive Funds” by Lakeidra Chavis and Daniel Nass for The Trace in partnership with Block Club Chicago, La Raza and the Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Gun Violence: A Community Conversation” by Jeff D’Alessio for The Champaign News-Gazette

  • “Big Ag U” by Johnathan Hettinger and Sky Chadde, Dana Cronin, Katie Peikes and Seth Bodine for Investigate Midwest and Harvest Public Media

  • “‘Gang Contracts’ in Cicero and Berwyn Schools Raise Concerns About Criminalization of Youth” by Irene Romulo for Cicero Independiente and Injustice Watch

Entries were judged by a panel of journalists and educators. For each category, two winners will be selected from the finalists. In addition, a Readers’ Choice Award will be presented to the finalist selected by a public vote. The theme for this year’s event is “Follow the Money.”

The awards are generously sponsored by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, which supports investigative reporting that fosters greater transparency, accountability and effectiveness in government institutions at the local level.

Judges for the 2022 awards are Chris Bury, senior journalist in residence at DePaul University; Brant Houston, professor and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Charles Whitaker, dean and professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media Integrated Marketing Communications; and Jesús Del Toro, director and general manager of Chicago’s La Raza newspaper and editorial director of San Francisco’s La Opinión de la Bahía.



The Better Government Association is Illinois’ oldest nonprofit newsroom and the state’s only non-partisan, full-service watchdog organization. The BGA focuses on transparency, efficiency and accountability in government in Chicago and across Illinois.