Lisagors are coming — save the dates

Did you enter the Lisagor Awards this year? Wanna know if you’re nominated? Of course, you do! The fastest way to find out is to join the Chicago Headline Club at Latinicity (108 N. State St., Chicago)  on Thursday, April 6!

Join your colleagues in toasting your nomination. OK, and theirs, too. Click here to RSVP.

And while you’re marking your calendar, save the date for this year’s Peter Lisagor Awards dinner, May 12 at the Union League Club of Chicago. Tickets on sale soon.

FOIA Fest 2017 — Feb. 25

Tickets for the fifth-annual FOIA Fest 2017 are now live! Get yours before they sell out.

The fifth-annual FOIA Fest will be Feb. 25 at Loyola University Chicago. The daylong conference features panels and training sessions on everything from finding records hidden in plain sight to analyzing data for hard-hitting investigations.

Tickets to the event include continental breakfast, snack and lunch.

FOIAFest is made possible by the generous support of the Chicago Headline Club, Loyola University Chicago and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Where: Loyola University’s Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson St., Chicago

When: Saturday , February 25, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Who: We’ve got journalists from the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, Bloomberg, WBEZ and more! Speaker list and schedule here:

How much: $15 for Headline Club members, $20 for non-members, $5 for students. All are welcome! Click here to buy tickets.

When Reporters Write Books — Friday, Jan. 13

We all manage to wear multiple hats when dashing between assignments and deadlines. But some of us have also managed to don the hat of book author. Join the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Wisniewski, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika, Crain’s Robert Elder and author/journalist Ethan Michaeli for cocktails and conversation on their tomes.

Who: Mary Wisniewski, most recently the the author of “Algren: A Life,” Maudlyne Ihejirika, author of “Escape from Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War,” Robert Elder, author of “Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park,” and Ethan Michaeli, author of “The Defender: How Chicago’s Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.”

When: Friday, Jan. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Seven Lions, 130 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago.

How: RSVP on Facebook:

The 2016 Lisagor Awards contest is live!

The Chicago Headline Club is now accepting nominations for 2016 Annual Peter Lisagor Awards!

Reports must have been published or aired between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. Entries must be the original work of journalists in Illinois or who work for news media based in the state or northwest Indiana.

Please note that through January 13, 2017, each entry will cost $50 for non-members; $30 for Chicago Headline Club members. After that, through January 31, 2017 each entry will cost $70 for non-members; $50 for Chicago Headline Club members. Join now and save.

Download the list of 2016 Lisagor categories.

To enter:

  1. Go to
  2. Select ‘Contestant’
  3. Click on “open” to be an Open Contestant.
  4. If you entered previous Lisagor Award contests, your email and password should be the same.
  5. If this is your first time entering the Lisagor Awards, click on “Create your Open Call account” and follow the prompts.
  6. The categories will mirror those found in the Lisagor entry forms mailed earlier this month.

Please note — The following categories did not appear in the entry form.  They are posted online.

Category A11 — Best Data Journalism.  Innovative use of data to illustrate a story, including the use of the Freedom of Information Act and other open-records tools.

Category D38 — Best Arts Reporting and Criticism, circulation more than 100,000.  Story or series on a single subject.

Questions? E-mail

Good luck!

Headline Club summer party/fundraiser Aug. 28

Join the Chicago Headline Club Foundation and fans, friends and family members Sun., Aug. 28 for our annual Les Brownlee summer party.

We will start at 2 p.m. at the southeast Evanston home Les shared with his wife, Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, at 537 Judson Ave. A brief program starts at 4 p.m.

Two Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award winners — Felicia Middlebrooks of WBBM Radio and Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business — will speak. We also will hear from one of Les’s students from his Columbia College years, Cynthia Pelayo. Harriet Ellis will entertain at the keyboard before and after the speakers. Dancing after 6 p.m.

A $25 donation is requested to benefit the Les Brownlee Scholarship Fund. In addition to visiting with old friends and meeting new ones, you’ll have fabulous food from Hecky’s BBQ, MamaT’s, Chicken Shack, plus pizza, brats, burgers, and beverages of all kinds.

Les was best-known for his “Les Brownlee: Channel 7 Eyewitness News.” He also worked at the Chicago Daily News, Chicago’s American and Chicago Defender. He was the first African-American member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the first black president of the Chicago Headline Club.

We honor Les each year with a $3,000 scholarship to an outstanding Chicago area journalism student. Your contribution at this party goes into that scholarship fund. If you cannot attend, you can still contribute. Write a check for a tax-deductible contribution to the Chicago Headline Club Foundation, care of CHCF Treasurer Howard Dubin, Manufacturers News, 1633 Central St., Evanston, IL 60201.

Copies of “Les Brownlee: The Autobiography of a Pioneering African-American Journalist” will be for sale at the party.


Congratulations to the winners!


CHICAGO, May 6, 2016 – The Chicago Headline Club, one of the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapters in the country, presented the winners of its 2015 Lisagor Awards at its annual awards dinner tonight before more than 300 people at the Union League Club of Chicago. The awards recognize the best of Chicago journalism and are named for Peter Lisagor, the Chicago Daily News’ Washington bureau chief from 1959 to 1976.

Veteran journalists Jon Hilkevitch, Linda Lenz and Harry Porterfield received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Hilkevitch was a Chicago Tribune transportation writer and columnist for nearly 37 years and is best known for his “Getting Around” column and for hard-hitting investigations of Chicago area transit. Lenz is the founder and longtime publisher of Catalyst Chicago, a publication dedicated to chronicling efforts to educate the city’s children. Porterfield was an anchorman and reporter at CBS 2 and ABC 7 for more than 50 years. He was perhaps best known for his long-running profile series, “Someone You Should Know,” which first aired in 1977.

The 2015 Anne Keegan Award was awarded to Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich for his story about Norman Malone—“Childhood attack silenced pianist’s right hand, but not his dream”—and to Stefano Esposito of the Chicago Sun-Times for “Evi & Walter: A love story in any key.”

These two distinguished feature stories mirror each other. Each introduces us to an elderly man who overcame enormous adversity to distinguish himself in the world of music. The Keegan Award was founded in 2012 to honor journalists “who tell stories of ordinary people in extraordinarily well-reported and well-written prose.” The judging committee noted “Choosing a winner this year was especially difficult. In fact, it was impossible. For the first time, the judges decided that fairness required us to choose two.”

The 2015 Watchdog Award for Excellence in Public Interest Reporting went to Jamie Kalven for “Sixteen Shots,” which he wrote for Slate. Kalven’s relentless work to get the autopsy report of Laquan McDonald uncovered how the black teenager was fatally shot 16 times by a white police officer, raising questions of excessive force and misconduct. Kalven kept on the story, pushing for the release of police video of the shooting, which eventually led to firing of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and to the officer being charged with murder. As one of the judges put it, “Jamie Kalven’s article ‘Sixteen Shots’ demonstrated investigative persistence that led to the truth in the death of Laquan McDonald.”

Tom Corfman of Crain’s Chicago Business served as master of ceremonies at the dinner.

The winners in more than 100 categories, including newspapers, magazines, television, radio and digital media, may be viewed here.


Lisagor Finalists revealed! (And happy hour)

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: It’s time to announce this year’s Peter Lisagor Award finalists! Join the Chicago Headline Club at III Forks Chicago Tuesday as we unveil this year’s nominees for the first time.

This’ll be your first chance to find out this year’s finalists — we won’t be releasing the list until after the event is over.

We’ll also have half off the restaurant’s draft beer and draft cocktails — plenty of cheer to go around, even if you didn’t enter for any awards this year.

Come on out, grab a drink with your colleagues and congratulate this year’s finalists!

WHAT: Lisagor Finalists reveal happy hour
WHERE: III Forks at 180 N Field Blvd, Chicago
WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 6-8p
More details and RSVP here

And don’t forget to buy your tickets to the Lisagor awards banquet here! Tickets must be bought by Thursday, April 28.

And the Lifetime Achievement Winners are…

The Chicago Headline Club, one of the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapters in the country, is pleased to announce the winners of its Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2015.

The honors go to veteran journalists Jon Hilkevitch, Linda Lenz and Harry Porterfield, who will be honored for their extraordinary work in Chicago journalism at the CHC’s Lisagor Awards banquet on May 6, 2016. The award is bestowed on those who have made lasting contributions to the community and profession.

Hilkevitch, a Chicago Tribune transportation writer and columnist for nearly 37 years, is being lauded for his work as the consummate beat reporter, holding officials accountable for delivering essential services to the city while regularly helping to improve people’s daily Hilkevitch was best known for his “Getting Around” column and for hard-hitting investigations of Chicago area transit. In 2001, a team of Tribune reporters co-led by Hilkevitch was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for their series “Gateway to Gridlock,” which chronicled the capacity crisis confronting the airline industry and the nation’s commercial airports.

Lenz is the founder and longtime publisher of Catalyst Chicago, a publication dedicated to chronicling efforts to educate the city’s children. Before launching Catalyst in 1990, she was the education writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and an editorial writer for the Chicago Daily News. She also is former president of the Education Writers Association, a 900-member organization that promotes informed coverage of education.

Lenz was a trailblazer for founding Catalyst during a period of immense change in Chicago Public Schools. Its mission is just as important today, as a go-to source for education coverage as the CPS continues struggling through its challenges. She has mentored many a reporter as Catalyst took the school system to task at every opportunity.

Porterfield was an anchorman and reporter at CBS 2 and ABC 7 for more than 50 years, earning him 11 regional Emmy awards, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, a Studs Terkel Award and the Operation PUSH Media Fairness Award.

Porterfield was perhaps best known for his long-running profile series, “Someone You Should Know,” which first aired in 1977. He also created the Emmy-award winning shows “Channel Two: The People” and “Two on Two.” He began his career in broadcast journalism in 1955 as a jazz disc jockey with radio station WKNX in Saginaw, Michigan.

The Lisagor awards dinner will be held Friday May 6, 2016, at The Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson St. Cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner and awards presentation is at 7 p.m.  The cost to attend is $90 for Headline Club members, $105 for non-members and $900-$1080 for a table of 10-12.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award and Lisagor prizes, awarded in a variety of categories, the club also awards two additional special prizes: The Watchdog Award, for excellence in public interest reporting, and The Anne Keegan Award, named after a former Chicago Tribune reporter who highlighted the plight and achievements of the common man.

Tickets may be purchased here:

Questions about the Lisagor dinner may be sent to Kathy Catrambone at