Journalists from ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune took top honors in the Better Government Association's 2020 Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting in an online ceremony held July 14. The annual awards recognize the region's top achievements in government-related investigative journalism.
The "Quiet Rooms," published last November, exposed the overuse and misuse of seclusion and physical restraints in public schools across Illinois. Following the report, state officials "took swift action, including issuing an emergency order to halt the use of isolated timeouts in public schools and introducing legislation to institute a permanent ban," according to ProPublica.
"The Quiet Rooms" also won the the Reader's Choice Award, a new prize awarded this year to the top vote-getter in an online competition.
Award winners received cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. The Driehaus Foundation has supported the awards through a partnership with the Better Government Association for more than a decade.
First place: "The Quiet Rooms," Jennifer Smith Richards (Chicago Tribune), Jodi S. Cohen and Lakeidra Chavis (ProPublica Illinois)
Second place: "Unwarranted: Wrong Raids," Dave Savini, Michele Youngerman, Samah Assad, Rebecca McCann, Deandre Taylor and Mike Klingele (WBBM-TV)
Third place: "The Bad Bet," Jason Grotto and Sandhya Kambhampati (ProPublica Illinois), Dan Mihalopoulos (WBEZ Public Radio)
Reader's Choice Award: "The Quiet Rooms," Jennifer Smith Richards (Chicago Tribune), Jodi S. Cohen and Lakeidra Chavis (ProPublica Illinois)
Finalists: "Power Players: Clout at ComEd," Dan Mihalopoulos, Dave McKinney, Tony Arnold and Alex Keefe (WBEZ Public Radio); "You're Destroying Families," Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib (ProPublica Illinois)