2021 Watchdog Award winner: ‘Buried Secrets’ by WBEZ

The Chicago Headline Club, thanks to the generous support of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, offers an annual Watchdog Award for enterprising journalism that defends and protects everyday folks.

Our 2021 Winner: “Buried Secrets” – WBEZ. Dan Mihalopoulos, Alex Keefe, Angela Rozas O’Toole

Judges said: “The investigation overcame court challenges and was the product of securing confidential documents to produce concrete results, including the resignations of the Chicago Park District chief executive, board president and other high-ranking officials. It represents the best kind of journalism that holds public leaders accountable.”

Other finalists included:

“Improper Vaccinations, Financial Questions at Loretto Hospital” – Block Club Chicago & Better Government Association. Kelly Bauer, David Jackson

Judges said “The reporters found special favors and discovered financial mismanagement. Their investigation drew the attention of the FBI and the Illinois Attorney General, led city officials to seize vaccine doses and resulted in the resignation of the hospital’s chief operating officer. The series is a great example of how journalists truly served their communities as watchdogs for the public good.”

“The Ripple Effect of Anjanette Young: Uncovering Police Abuse and Trauma in Chicago” – WBBM-TV/CBS-Chicago. Dave Savini, Samah Assad, Michele Youngerman, Christopher Hacker

Judges said: “This project ticks off all the boxes of great watchdog work — It affected meaningful change, it stuck up for voiceless people, it revealed systemic injustice that otherwise would have gone unchallenged.”

About the Watchdog Award

The Watchdog Award is sponsored by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The winner of the 2021 prize was presented at the Lisagor Awards banquet on May 6, 2022.