Hopkins, re-joins the Illinois Answers Project from The Kansas City Beacon, where she was a health accountability reporter. Hopkins previously worked as a reporter for the Better Government Association, which publishes Illinois Answers.
At the Beacon, Hopkins investigated Missouri’s sheltered workshops, which provide employment opportunities for adults with disabilities, often at subminimum wage rates. Her stories examined participants’ experiences in sheltered workshops and how Missouri has doubled down in its commitment to keeping these workshops open, even as nearly 25 other states either have decided to phase them out or have considered doing so.
“It was great to jump into a new community I hadn’t reported in before and develop that connection,” Hopkins said. “It got me thinking about how we can make our reporting and writing more accessible.”
Hopkins first joined the BGA as reporter in 2016, and in the following years led investigations into city- and state-wide issues, including nuclear power plant contamination, Chicago’s recycling system and failures in the enforcement of Chicago’s building and fire-safety codes.
Earlier this year, she received a Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for the story series “The Failures Before the Fires,” which found that 42 lethal fires occurred in buildings with fire safety problems known to city officials. Hopkins and the BGA partnered with the Chicago Tribune for the series.
“We are excited to have Madison join our newsroom,” said Ronnie Ramos, editor in chief of Illinois Answers. “She is a tremendous reporter who knows Chicago and will produce impactful journalism. As we continue to expand and build our news team, we wanted to bring in journalists who not only had a proven track record of success, but were collaborative team members who contribute to an inclusive newsroom environment. Madison excels in all those areas.”
Before joining the BGA, Hopkins earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and contributed research and reporting to the Chicago Tribune, Invisible Institute and WBEZ.
“Returning to the BGA feels like coming home, and I am thrilled to be back,” Hopkins said. “The organization has assembled an impressive team during my absence, and I look forward to collaborating with both familiar and new colleagues.”
Hopkins will start at Illinois Answers Project on April 3.