The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting honor excellence in government-related investigative reporting in Illinois and recognize the importance of this work in preserving and advancing 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 can celebrate and reward, with $27,000 in prize money, the work of others in the watchdog fight.

This year’s winners – announced June 21 at City Winery Chicago – exemplified the best in investigative reporting’s central goal to expose government waste, fraud, and corruption. The winners spent much of 2021 exposing widespread sexual harassment of Chicago Park District lifeguards, how corporate donations influenced Midwest public land-grant universities, and how one Chicago hospital gave COVID-19 vaccines intended for some of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods to people with ties to hospital administrators at Trump Tower.

For the first time, the Driehaus Awards honored the best investigative and enterprising journalism produced by smaller newsrooms outside the Chicago market. Newsrooms headquartered in Illinois with editorial staffs of fewer than 25 were eligible.

Attendees of the event were also treated to a discussion with one of the nation’s foremost investigative journalists, David Barstow, who is the only reporter to have received four Pulitzer Prizes. Barstow discussed some of the most impactful stories of his career, including a 2018 New York Times investigation into Donald Trump’s long history of avoiding taxes.

2022 Winners

Main Category

First Place : $12,000

“Buried Secrets”

Dan Mihalopoulos, Alex Keefe and Angela Rozas O’Toole, WBEZ Chicago

Runner-up: $5,000

“Improper Vaccinations at Loretto Hospital”

Kelly Bauer, Block Club Chicago

Small Newsrooms Category

First Place: $7,000

“Big Ag U”

Johnathan Hettinger and Sky Chadde, Investigate Midwest;

Dana Cronin, Katie Peikes and Seth Bodine, Harvest Public Media

Runner-up: $2,000

“Illinois Has a Program to Compensate Victims of Violent Crimes. Few Applicants Receive Funds”

Lakeidra Chavis and Daniel Nass, The Trace

This story was published in partnership with The Chicago Sun-Times, Block Club Chicago, and La Raza Chicago.

Readers’ Choice Award: $1,000

“Improper Vaccinations at Loretto Hospital”

Kelly Bauer, Block Club Chicago

Finalist:Gun Violence: A Community Conversation

Jeff D’Alessio, The Champaign News-Gazette

Finalist:‘Gang Contracts’ in Cicero and Berwyn Schools Raise Concerns About Criminalization of Youth

Irene Romulo, Cicero Independiente

Finalist: Drowning in Debt

María Inés Zamudio, Alden Loury, Matt Kiefer, Mary Hall, Manuel Martinez, Kat Nagasawa and Charmaine Runes, WBEZ Chicago

Finalist: GI Bill Snafus Widespread and Longstanding, Long-Secret Whistleblower Investigation Finds

Stephanie Zimmerman, Chicago Sun-Times


The BGA thanks the panel of seasoned journalists who selected the 2022 winners:

  • Christopher Bury, Senior Journalist in Residence, DePaul University

  • Jesús Del Toro, Director General and General Manager, La Raza

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

  • Jackie Spinner, Correspondent, Columbia Journalism Review

  • Dawn Turner, Novelist, and Former Reporter and Columnist, Chicago Tribune

  • Laura Washington, Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times and Political Analyst, ABC-7

  • Charles Whitaker, Dean and Professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications

The BGA is grateful to the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation for its continued support and to Loevy & Loevy for sponsoring the evening’s cocktail reception.

Thank you to special guest, four-time Pulitzer-prize winner David Barstow.

The BGA also thanks City Winery Chicago; producer Denise McGowan Tracy; photographer Kasia Jarosz; musicians Abigail Riccards and Tom Vaitsas; and Sound Investments Audio Visual for technical support.