Journalists and freelance writers working on investigative stories face many obstacles, including costs associated with public access to documents, travel expenses and materials. Thanks to the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, journalists facing such financial burdens can tap into a fund that has been established to alleviate those financial obstacles.
The Chicago Headline Club, which is the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, administers the Watchdog Fund. The Fund is made possible by a generous annual funding pledge from the Driehaus Foundation. Best known for its philanthropic support of the arts, architectural and urban environment initiatives, the Driehaus Foundation also takes a keen interest in supporting documentary film, radio reporting and investigative projects.
The Watchdog Fund is a separate entity from the Watchdog Award, also funded by the Driehaus Foundation, which gives an annual $3,500 prize to an enterprising journalist or team of journalists who expose ways in which the public is being harmed or poorly served. The award winners are chosen by a committee of the Chicago Headline Club and announced annually at the Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Awards banquet.
The Fund, while primarily reserved for journalists working in the greater Chicago area without the financial backing of a major media organization, is open to all reporters. The Fund does not consider grant requests for scholarship, training or legal fees.
The Watchdog Award and Fund are important tools that help the Chicago Headline Club carry out its core mission to improve and protect journalism. As the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Headline Club’s purpose is to provide an effective means for Chicago-area journalists to participate in programs to improve journalism standards, recognize excellence, encourage young journalists, advance the cause of freedom of information and enhance the prestige of the profession.