The Illinois Answers Project has welcomed two journalists for its new state investigative and solutions team funded by The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Embedded investigative reporters Grace Hauck and Meredith Newman joined the newsroom this fall and are working to collaborate with local newsrooms across Illinois. The team is also hiring for a third reporter.

The goal of the statewide embed initiative is to pair Illinois Answers’ investigative and solutions resources with the local news judgment and reader expertise of partner newsrooms. The combined effort will produce statewide reports with local relevance, while addressing problems and solutions of consequence in overlooked cities and rural populations statewide. 

Initial partner newsrooms include the State Register-Journal in Springfield, the News-Gazette in Champaign, Shaw Local News Network across northern Illinois, and the Journal Star in Peoria. 

Meredith Newman, left, and Grace Hauck in Springfield in November.

Grace Hauck was most recently a criminal justice reporter for USA TODAY in Chicago, where she investigated a fraudulent nationwide COVID testing scheme based in Illinois, reported a series of exonerations related to a corrupt former Chicago detective, and spearheaded a nationwide examination of how school children are prepared for active shooters.

Hauck also reported on national and international breaking news events, including the Highland Park Fourth of July shooting, and numerous high-profile criminal trials, such as the Derek Chauvin trial in the murder of George Floyd. 

Previously, she worked at the Deccan Herald in Bangalore. Hauck is a native of New Jersey and she studied at the University of Chicago. 

Meredith Newman most recently was an investigative reporter at The News-Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, where she reported on health care, state politics and policy as well as Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

During the pandemic, her watchdog reporting revealed how nursing homes failed to curb the virus at a time when resident deaths were among the highest in the nation, as well as how Delaware struggled to make vaccines accessible to the Black and Latino communities. Her reporting into assisted living facilities documented how the state failed to provide oversight and funding for more than a decade, leading to unlivable conditions and tragic deaths. She also produced a year-long series on the health care struggles of the Amish community.

Before living in Delaware, Meredith worked at The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland. Newman is a graduate of Syracuse University and is from Evanston, Illinois. 

The Illinois Answers Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom published by the Better Government Association, the state’s nonprofit full-service watchdog organization. This new statewide initiative is a key component of the Illinois Solutions Plan, a multi-year strategy developed by the BGA to expand its investigative and solutions reporting resources as well as outreach to communities across the state. 

The team is hiring another reporter to join in early 2024. For questions about this program or the open position, contact state & solutions editor Rachel Aretakis at

The Illinois Answers Project is Illinois’ nonpartisan investigations and solutions journalism news organization. We are published by the Better Government Association, Illinois’ nonprofit full-service watchdog organization.