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Journalists gathered at City Hall, an aptly named West Loop venue, May 24 to celebrate the year’s top achievements in government accountability reporting. The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting, held every year by the Better Government Association, highlight the impact of Illinois investigative and enterprise reporting as a reform tool within the context of state and local government waste, fraud, and corruption.

This year’s winners and finalists exposed neglect and abuse in Illinois’s mental health facilities, failures in the Department of Children and Family Services, and how pesticide exposure was sending downstate farmworkers to the emergency room. Winners shared a prize pool of $27,000.

Large Newsrooms (newsrooms with editorial staffs of more than 10)

First place: ProPublica / Chicago Tribune; “The Price Kids Pay” by Jodi S. Cohen, Jennifer Smith Richards

Runner up: WBBM-TV; “DCFS Survivors” by Dave Savini, Michele Youngerman

Finalists: Capitol News Illinois / Lee Enterprises / ProPublica; “Culture of Cruelty” by Beth Hundsdorfer, Molly Parker; Block Club Chicago; “Problems at COVID-19 Testing Pop-Ups” by Kelly Bauer

Small Newsrooms (newsrooms with editorial staffs of less than 10)

First place: Injustice Watch; “Investigation of SCRAM devices in Cook County courts” by Maya Dukmasova

Runner up: Investigate Midwest; “How Illinois’ ‘fragmented system’ of pesticide monitoring exposure ‘allows individuals to get poisoned over and over without any brakes” by Sky Chadde, Amanda Perez Pintado

Finalists: Injustice Watch; “Chicago police denied scores of undocumented crime victims a path to citizenship” by Carlos Ballesteros; Injustice Watch; “Illinois changed its controversial ‘felony murder rule.’ Here’s who the reform left behind.” by Rita Oceguera and Chloe Hilles

Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Megan Twohey joined Better Government Association president David Greising in conversation to share lessons and stories from her work. Twohey, along with investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017, helping to ignite the #MeToo movement. Twohey and Kantor co-authored “Chasing the Truth” and “SHE SAID,” inspiring the 2022 film by the same name. Twohey is also an Evanston native and onetime reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

The Driehaus Foundation has supported the annual awards ceremony through a partnership with the Better Government Association for more than a decade. The awards celebrate exemplary reporting that uncovers problems, holds powerful institutions accountable, and helps the public more deeply understand of the issues of our time.


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