The 31st annual Lisagor Awards
for work done in 2007
presented April 25, 2008
Judges’ comments included, when available.
OVERALL DEADLINE REPORTING
Introduced this year, this category was open to all media for a cross-competition of
superior deadline reporting. Entries reflected coverage of breaking news by a reporting
team as published, posted on a Web site or aired within 24 hours of the event. Judges
were instructed to look for enterprise, accuracy, style and impact as well as speed of
Winner: Daily Herald, “Luna Guilty,” Stacy St. Clair, Joseph Ryan and Staff
Judges’ comments: While the entire package was complete and readable, the main story
was exceptionally well written and managed to incorporate the most interesting aspects of
the trial that lasted 14 days. One strength of the package was the number of sources
quoted and paraphrased. It lent a personal tone to the stories but didn’t exploit the
principal characters involved. The package also effectively used reader-friendly devices
like the jury deliberation chart, reactions to the verdict and photos of the victims. The
package also included a good story looking forward to how the verdict would affect the
other defendant’s case.
Finalist: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Guv’s Big New Biz Tax Blitz,” Greg Hinz and Paul
Judges’ comments: The proposed bill would have an immense impact on businesses first
but also on virtually everyone in the state. The story is a good example of enterprise
reporting with a strong sidebar that included comments from small business people who
would be affected by the law as well as placing the matter into context with other states
with similar policies. One shortcoming was that the reporters found no proponent for the
proposed system. It would also have been interesting to juxtapose the pros and cons of
the tax proposal to those of the universal health insurance plan that it was designed to
BEST NEWS WEB SITE
This new category honors the best source of news and utility in the community.
Winner: Northwest Herald, nwherald.com , Staff
Judges’ comments: A very clean designed, very functional and colorful site with tons of
entry points. Great use of type size, colors and shapes.
Finalists: Crain’s Chicago Business, ChicagoBusiness.com, Michael McHugh, Todd
Behme and Staff
Judges’ comments: Very clean, easily navigable with clear hierarchy, many entry points,
not obtrusively advertised.
Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com , Bill Adee, Ben Estes and Staff
Judges’ comments: Clean design, good hierarchy, non-obnoxious advertisements.
BEST INTERACTIVE FEATURE
Judges of this new category looked for the most compelling online project. Submissions
could have been a multimedia package, database, user-generated feature or any
Winner: Northwest Herald, “Coincidence or cluster? The McCullom Lake brain cancer
Judges’ comments: Wonderful blend of public records, maps, videos, photos and
traditional print elements narrating the plight of those possibly affected by tainted well
water and their lawsuit against the chemical companies that may have been responsible.
Deftly explaining a tedious lawsuit and incorporating harrowing testimony of struggle
and suffering, this was obviously an ongoing team effort that marries the talents of
newspaper departments for an exceptional example of modern journalism.
Finalists: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ, “DNA files,” Staff
Judges’ comments: An ongoing radio series about genetics and related research in the
Chicago area, DNA Files makes effective use of audio, video and photos to tell the story
of ancestry, science, disease and what the building blocks that we each share – genes –
tells us about our lives, environment and future.
Realtor® Magazine, “Stage this room,” Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Judges’ comments: As a multimedia piece accompanying Realtor Magazine’s print story,
“Staged to Sell,” this was one of the few entries that was truly interactive. Incorporating
videos, tips and Q&A – writers, designers and editors repackaged magazine content in a
unique way that helps showcase visual elements that aren’t served by words alone.
Up to six examples of the work of a single editorial cartoonist. Judges looked for
creativity, technical mastery and impact.
Winner: Crain’s Chicago Business, Roger L. Schillerstrom
Judges’ comments: Well-drawn and clever cartoons the reader can instantly identify with,
especially the homeowners on the torture rack of subprime lenders, getting a little
adjustment. Well done.
Finalists: Chicago Sun-Times, Thomas Frisbie
Judges’ comments: Clever way of illustrating the morass we’re in.
Daily Herald, Eric Semelroth
Judges’ comments: Simple and graphic. Don’t all Cubs fans feel like they’re pushing a
Daily Newspaper News Design
Winner: Daily Herald, “Windy vs. Indy,” Tim Broderick and Sean Stangland
Judges’ comments: Impact design with a punchy headline. Pride and enthusiasm for the
Bears clearly shows in this layout for their quest for the Super Bowl.
Finalists: Daily Southtown, “$738 million Question,” Chad Merda
Judges’ comments: Clever use of toy cars to illustrate story on congestion.
Daily Herald, “Luna Guilty,” Tim Broderick
Judges’ comments: Front-page design complemented an excellent effort by reporters.
Daily Newspaper Feature or Sports Design
Winner: Chicago Sun-Times, “Green House,” Greg Good
Judges’ comment: The clear winner in an incredibly tough field. Beautifully planned and
rich detail in this illustration. A great service to readers on a subject that is getting a great
deal of attention these days.
Finalists: Daily Southtown, “Train Rex,” Chad Merda
Chicago Sun-Times, “Super Hero,” Eric White, Arnel Reynon and Dan Mann
Judges’ comments: Clean and elegant design. Watercolors juxtaposed with photos were a
Winner: Beep, A Daily Herald publication, “Fall Out Boy/Plain White T’s,” Jason
Judges’ comments: Jason’s use of typography and graphics in lieu of running a boring
handout photo brought lots of impact to what could have been a dull cover. Taking the
basics and standing them on their head from cover to centerspread was what impressed
Finalists: Time Out Chicago, “The Beer Issue,” Bryan Erickson and Mike Novak
Hospitals & Health Networks, “States Evidence,” Chuck Lazar
Winner: Crain’s Chicago Business, “The Teachings of India,” Melissa Phee
Judges’ comments: Absolutely beautiful. The judges were very impressed with use of
India-theme graphics and photos that pulled the package together from front to back.
Finalist: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Focus: Brazil,” Melissa Phee
A series on a single topic, or up to three examples by the same author illustrating general
excellence. Judges looked for analytical skill, style and impact.
Daily Newspaper Editorial
Winner: Chicago Sun-Times, “CTA Bailout,” Editorial Board
Judges’ comments: These pieces show excellent watchdog baying on behalf of
beleaguered citizens, by bringing the hard light of publicity onto the situation, explaining
it, providing background and history, proposing solutions and preventive measures, and
sticking with it until the government did something about it. One judge said: “It made me
mad – and I haven’t ridden the el since the summer of 1990. The thought that so many
Chicagoans were being threatened with the loss of their only way to work and school was
unthinkable. Fix it, now, indeed!”
Finalist: The Courier News, “Watching a Gentle Light Go Out,” Mike Bailey
Judges’ comments: Mike Bailey’s writing was superb in all three of his entries; however,
they really belong in the DC1 (news column or commentary) category. However, since
all three would have been very fine editorials had they been rewritten and published that
way, I thought it a good idea to make him a finalist. Further, the piece on the passing of a
colleague is a good example of the kind of “take-a-moment-to-see-the-big-picture”
viewpoint we need to see more often in print, to balance our daily nitpicking and fault-
finding. The public often complains that they only read bad news in our pages; pieces like
these – especially if moved into the lead editorial spot – would go a long way toward
restoring some credibility and respect for our efforts. Very well conceived and written.
Chicago Sun-Times, “BP Pollutes Lake Michigan,” Editorial Board
Judges’ comments: More exemplary watchdog commentary, though the call for a boycott
might have been a bit much. It would have been better to get someone in the community
to do that for you. However, the judges commend the board’s decision to draw a line in
the lake, so to speak, and firmly insist that any further addition of pollutants, no matter
how diluted or within acceptable regulatory limits, is unacceptable in principle and
should be unthinkable in practice. Chicago has a long history of short-sighted decisions
that led to long-term threats to its water supply. Good for you for standing on principle.
Winner: American Medical News, “TB on a Plane,” Stephanie Stapleton
Judges’ comments: After the buzz about the Atlanta lawyer with TB on a plane died
down, the story of what do about the national problem of infectious diseases appeared to
disappear also. This editorial brings the problem in a much larger context back to the
table for discussion and notes what needs to change if we don’t want to see this sort of
thing on a regular basis.
Finalists: Pensions & Investments, “Sovereign funds’ test,” Barry B. Burr
Judges’ comments: Editorials often cover problems that are happening, as opposed to
those that may happen. But this one is different. It flags up concern over a type of
investment that is growing very quickly, gives the concern context and offers a solution –
all in an easy to read format.
Modern Healthcare, “What are You Prepared to Do?,” Neil McLaughlin
Judges’ comments: Editorials that entice readers to consider a problem – as opposed to
banging them over the head with it – are particularly compelling. This entry is an
example. It’s entertaining but at the same time asks all readers – not just specific groups –
to take responsibility for contributing something to solve a crisis.
Daily Newspapers News Column or Commentary
Winner: The Beacon News, “Teen Drinking – Lessons Unlearned, “Denise Crosby
Judges’ comments: This was a tough category. It was hard enough with 31 entries to read
over, but there was scant separation between the winning entries and the entries which
reluctantly had to be tossed aside. So Denise Crosby should feel especially proud. Crosby
took a local tragedy and turned it into a crusade. The problem of teenage drinking and
driving is not new. But if more teenagers and parents read Crosby’s numerous columns
on the subject, the tragic statistics of teenage drinking might take a turn
for the better.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “From Here to Excellence,” Cornelia Grumman and John
Chicago Tribune, “When World’s Ceiling Fell in on Debra,” Dawn Trice
Non-Daily News Column or Commentary
Winner: Chicago Reader, “The Works,” Ben Joravsky
Judges’ comments: Superb job reporting and writing on the abuse of tax increment
financing; makes a complicated financial process compelling.
Finalists: Crain’s Chicago Business, Columns, Greg Hinz
Judges’ comments: interesting topics, written with wit, insight and command of the facts.
Journal and Topics Newspapers, “Taxes Will Never Die,” Todd Wessell
Judges’ comments: Passionate and fact-filled arguments against city tax increases.
Winner: Chicago Sun-Times, “Shame of the NFL,” Rick Telander
Judges’ comments: Telander writes powerfully about a sordid underbelly of the National
Football League, where repeatedly injured former players turn up in constant suffering,
almost hopelessly in debt for medical bills and sometimes homeless. His series of
columns details bad blood between the NFL Players Association and a charitable group
called The Gridiron Greats headed by former stars Mike Ditka and others. As
commentary, it takes the side of the Gridiron Greats, with strong quotes and color. It is
Finalists: The Post-Tribune, Series about the battle over East Chicago High School
trophies, Mike Hutton
Chicago Tribune, “Spurred by tragedy, making a difference,” Rick Morrissey
Judges’ comments: There were a number of strong entries in this category. Both runners-
up were outstanding reads. We don’t often read such an offbeat and entertaining story as
Hutton’s about the battle over trophies in East Chicago High School hall of fame.
Morrissey’s entry also is a little outside the normal scope of sports reporting, writing in
dramatic detail about a former Northwestern free safety’s campaign for a defibrillator
initiative that might have saved the life of a former teammate.
News Bureau, Wire Service, Online
Winner: Tribune Media Services, “New Orleans: 2 Years Later,” Ilyce Glink
Judges’ comments: Terrific writing. Glink doesn’t just rely on numbers or facts to tell the
story of a diminished city, but takes the reader to the heart of the story, the people.
Editors made a wise decision assigning Glink this task.
Finalists: MSNBC.com, Sports Columns, Bob Cook
Bloomberg News, “It’s Not Just Money,” John Wasik
Insufficient number of entries
Insufficient number of entries
A photograph by a single photographer, a series of photographs on a single subject by
one or more photographers, or a video sequence of up to 10 minutes on a single subject.
Judges valued enterprise, technical mastery and impact.
News Bureau, Wire Service or Online News Photography
Winner: The Associated Press, “Baseball Fight,” Nam Y. Huh
Judges’ comments: It’s a great catch of the pitcher’s extended arm with fist attached, with
the player just getting out of the way! Crisp, colorful, clear expressions. Too bad sports
has to be so emotionally violent.
Finalists: The Associated Press, “Iraq Grief,” Charles Rex Arbogast
Judges’ comments: Great composition.
The Associated Press, “Obama in Iowa,” Michael S. Green
Judges’ comments: Lots of different compositions, angles, and expressions. Any of these
would be great to use on a day to day coverage of a political candidate. I really like the
bumper car shot.
Winner: CBS 2 WBBM-TV, “Winter Solstice,” Nathan Delack
Judges’ comments: We saw winter in Chicagoland. That was the goal. A great job of
getting the tight shot and the wide shots of winter; we saw winter up-close and from the
other side of the pond. This was winter.
Finalist: WTTW11, “The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History,” Tim Boyd
Daily Newspaper Sports Photography
Winner: Chicago Sun-Times, “Throwing Error,” Richard A. Chapman
Judges’ comments: Great catch … for the photographer! More than just two eyes and a
ball. Good timing for the expression and the ball. Nice exposure for sharpness and light.
Finalist: Chicago Tribune, “Cubs,” Phil Velasquez
Judges’ comments: Fun to look at this photograph. Great depth of field. Thank you for
letting us see the crowd’s reaction as well as the team’s while player crosses home plate.
Would have liked to see more at the bottom.
Winner: Chicago Tribune Magazine, “Good As Gold,” Abel Uribe
Judges’ comments: An easy first place choice. It was easy to discover Abel’s love for the
craft of photojournalism. His careful use of light with the occasional blending of natural
and strobe light was extremely appealing. His compilation of both detail and general
informational photos clearly told the story through the visual medium. Additionally, the
design of the package enhanced the photos with the appropriate use of white space on
several of the pages. This is a rare, but needed, benefit in displaying fine photos. The
careful camera-to-subject view was refreshing and enhanced the over-all composition of
Finalists: The Chicago Reporter, “Invisible Victims,” Jon Lowenstein, Joe Gallo and
Judges’ comments: Original visual appeal was widespread. A well-rounded visual
production that was presented with diverse photo opportunities that seemed to be missed
in the over-all package. There was an abundance of “portrait-type” photos that could
have been more appealing with relevant “found” photo circumstances that clearly showed
what the text of the stories were conveying. Basically, a nice package that missed going
Smart Business Chicago, “Attitude Adjustment,” Michael Monar
Winner: Crain’s Chicago Business, “40 Under 40,” Stephen J. Serio and Erik Unger
Judges’ comments: This category was a highly competitive category with several fine
entries. A lot of discussion took place to reveal “40 Under 40” by Serio and Unger as
the clear-cut, first-place winner. The double truck lead photo presentation was a unique,
clear and creative effort in what presents cliché visual productions. The individual
portraits were refreshing, and cleverly composed. Additionally, they showed clear
evidence of the photographers’ efforts to get to know their subjects before photographing
them. A rare effort. Lighting in each photo was produced with technical excellence. With
40 subjects the photographic team paid careful attention to stay away from redundancy.
Again, a tribute to knowing their subjects’ roles before visually recording for publication.
Finalists: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Focus: Brazil,” Erik Unger
Judges’ comments: Appealing camera-to-subject view made this a very strong competitor
with the winner. In some cases with regards to photo packages, less is more. However,
this story and the minimal number of photos cried out for more. The over-all visual report
was sound, but needing more informative photos to round out the package.
Star Newspapers, “Beating the Throw,” Brett Roseman
Daily Newspaper News Photography
Winner: Daily Southtown, “Winter Fire,” Joseph P. Meier
Judges’ comments: Excellent contrast drawing the eye to the fire! Interesting,
informative, and intense. The bird’s eye view fills the frame quite well.
Finalists: Daily Herald, “Lightning and Firefighting,” Steve Lundy
Judges’ comments: A strike of luck or experienced timed exposure? Either way the
lightning definitely brings a striking element to the photograph. Pardon the pun.
Chicago Sun-Times, “The Quizno’s Coyote,” Scott Stewart
Judges’ comments: Jaws dropped on this one. Beautiful shot!
Daily Newspaper Feature Photography
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Our Hidden Poor,” Kuni Takahashi
Judges’ comments: Photojournalism at its finest. A job well done in bringing life to a
story about life. Takahashi’s talent shines with natural light and composition. It takes
more than time and dedication to accomplish this art of work, it takes understanding.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “Inside the Surge,” Kuni Takahashi”
Judges’ comments: Takahashi has gone beyond the call of duty to bring us first class
photographs from places not many would dare go. Takahashi is that fly on the wall we all
think about being at time or another. His courage stands out with his compelling
Daily Southtown, “Prayers,” Joseph P. Meier
Judges’ comments: This is one photograph we don’t mind the subject staring into the
BUSINESS AND CONSUMER REPORTING
A story or series on a single subject, by a reporter or reporting team. Judges examined
enterprise, style and impact.
News Bureau, Wire Service or Online
Winner: The Associated Press, “Homeowner Nightmares, ” Dave Carpenter and Janna
Judges’ comments: The housing crisis is well known, but this story really shows the
impact of the lives of those most affected – the families. It also gives great insight into
the tactics lenders use to entice people into a bad loan. Well worth the read.
Finalists: Bloomberg News, “Solv-Ex Chief Who Scammed Investors Says He’s
Outsmarted Exxon,” Joe Carroll
The Associated Press, “Buttery Hazard” stories, Sharon Cohen
Daily Newspaper Business Reporting
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Keeping the Oil Flowing,” David Greising
Finalists: The Wall Street Journal, Series on the Restaurant Industry, Janet Adamy and
Thomas M. Burton
Daily Herald, “2007,” Michael Sean Comerford
Daily Newspaper Consumer Reporting
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Hidden Hazards,” Staff
Judges’ comments: This is journalism at its finest. This series is well researched, well
written and well worth the time reading through it. The stories are alarming, showing the
deadly flaws in products ranging from the toys we buy our kids to the seats we drive
them to the store in to the beds we put them to sleep in. But even more disturbing is how
the Tribune staff detailed the government’s inability to do anything about it. We certainly
hope the Tribune doesn’t have to write a series like this again, but we take comfort in
knowing the Tribune will there to let us know.
Finalists: Chicago Sun-Times, “Fish Fraud,” Janet Rausa Fuller
Daily Herald, “The Dream Foreclosed,” Anna Marie Kukec, Deborah Donovan and Tim
Business Magazine or Newspaper
Winner: BusinessWeek, Motorola Stories, Roger Crockett
Finalists: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Is Kraft Crossing the Line?,” Julie Jargon
Crain’s Chicago Business, “McD’s Brewing Beverage Blitz,” David Sterrett
Trade or Specialty Magazine, Newspaper or Newsletter
Winner: The Chicago Reporter, “The High Price of Homeownership,” Kimbriell Kelly
and Alden Loury
Finalists: Hospitals & Health Networks, “Can Big Business Save Health Care?,” Phil
Realtor® magazine, “Frontlines: Real Estate’s Wild Card,” Robert Freedman
Winner: Chicago magazine, “South Loop Rising,” Dennis Rodkin
Judges’ comments: Solid reporting, good writing, package put together well with
graphics, photos, illustrations, charts and sidebars.
Finalists: Chicago magazine, “The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Restaurateur,”
Judges’ comments: Very readable, well-written, fun, good color obviously gleaned
during a considerable amount of reporting
Chicago Tribune Magazine, ” ‘Superwoman’ Returns,” Greg Burns
Judges’ comments: Important topic, well executed.
Winner: CBS 2 WBBM-TV, “Filthy Food,” Dave Savini and Michele Youngerman
Judges’ comments: Judges were very impressed on the depth the crew went to tell the
story. Literally tailing a vehicle to another state. This is a great story that has not been
done over and over. It was good story, then became a great story exposing the lack of
food inspectors for the state of Illinois.
Finalists: Fox News Chicago , “House Today, Gone Tomorrow,” Mark Saxenmeyer,
Dartise Johnson and David Tresnowski
Fox News Chicago, “Internet Insecurity,” Larry Yellen, Diane Carbonara and Tim Smith
Winner: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM , “The New Timeshare: Luxury Cars,” Alex
Helmick and Tinku Ray
Judges’ comments: An entertaining reports on a new segment of the luxury car market,
mixed with audio of exhilarated drivers and engine exhaust. Wish I was in the Ferrari
with them. Great public radio feature.
Finalists: WGN Radio, “Lamb Chops,” Rob Hart
WBBM Newsradio 780, “Noon Business Hour – Subprime Loan Crisis,” Sherman
Kaplan, Kris Kridel and Andrew Giersher
A story or series on a single subject, by a reporter or reporting team. Judges looked for
enterprise, precision, scope, style and impact.
Daily Newspaper Lifestyle Reporting
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “The Hoaks Sisters,” Jason George
Judges’ comments: Fascinating story, well worth a two-part series.
Finalists: Chicago Sun-Times, “Going Green,” Janet Rausa Fuller, Lori Rackl and
Daily Herald, “Sex Ed,” Jamie Sotonoff
Non-daily Lifestyle Reporting
Winner: Pioneer Press, “Greener” Series, Northwest Group
Judges’ comments: Important subject matter, well executed. A lot of time obviously went
into this project.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune Magazine, “I’m Calling You Out, Bobby Flay,” Mark Caro,
Chicago Tribune Magazine
Chicago Reader, “Resourceful Renters: Eight Chicagoans Who’ve Transformed Their
Apartments,” Heather Kenny and Martha Bayne
Judges’ comments: Love this project. Fun, creative, great photos and details in the
writing. We wish we had photos of the renters.
Radio Lifestyle Reporting
Winner: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, “Mary Todd,” Gianofer Fields, Aurora
Aguilar and Staff
Judges’ comments: A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting piece on the life of a troubled
former first lady, as documented by lively reporting and through the eyes of a new exhibit
at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. A lot was learned about Mary Todd Lincoln’s life
and troubles post-Abe, and it was an entertaining listen.
Finalists: WLS-AM 890, “355 Extension,” Jennifer Keiper
WBBM Newsradio 780, “Made in Chicago, Aug. 20, 2007,” Bob Roberts
Television Soft News Feature
Winner: NBC5 WMAQ-TV, “The Right Direction,” Phil Rogers, Mark Ringo and
Judges’ comments: This story had all of the elements. Good storytelling, good shooting,
good editing, and good takeaway. Judges were happy to see the reporter tried the theory
of the story twice, not just once.
Finalists: WGN-TV, “Façade Project,” Steve Sanders, Pam Grimes and Mike D’Angelo
Fox News Chicago, “The Perfect Match,” Mark Saxenmeyer, Lou Hinkhouse and Nathan
Daily Newspaper Sports Reporting
Winner: Daily Herald, “From Glory Days to the Meltdown,” John Dietz
Judges’ comments: A nice piece of reporting with stories, photos and graphics packaged
well to give the reader a full picture of a dynasty in decline.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “Oh Truly Means King,” David Haugh
Chicago Sun-Times, “A Foundation of Dignity and Respect,” Jim O’Donnell
Non-daily Sports Reporting
Winner: Chicago magazine, “Stone in Exile,” Josh Schollmeyer
Judges’ comments: A strong, engaging and intelligent piece. “Stone in Exile” is a well
constructed, compelling narrative that conveys an emotional understanding of a
psychologically complex individual.
Finalist: Chicago magazine, “Bull Buster,” Bryan Smith
Television Sports Reporting
Winner: WTTW11, “Chicago Tonight – African-American Skateboards,” Christian Farr
Judges’ comments: A great job of showing a story that has not been seen before. The
judges enjoyed see reporter setting-up the story, but let charters tell the story and add the
flavor. A story worth watching.
Finalists: NBC5 WMAQ-TV, “Prince of a Player,” Peggy Kusinski and Tony Vitale
WTTW11, “Chicago Tonight – Winter Surfing,” Jay Shefsky
Radio Sports Reporting
Winner: WBBM Newsradio 780, Super Bowl Coverage. Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Ron
Gleason and sports department
Judges comments: This is good, old-fashioned sports radio at its best. The Bears
broadcast crew seamlessly analyzes the Bears’ first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years,
capturing the excitement of the big game while interjecting interviews from key players.
A well-rounded, well-produced montage of pre-game events broadcast back to listeners
in Chicago, from Super Bowl 41 in Miami.
Finalists: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, “Runners Blast Marathon Officials,”
Ammad Omar, Ben Calhoun and staff
News Bureau, Wire Service or Online Features or Sports Reporting
Winner: The Associated Press, “Inside the Burn Unit,” Sharon Cohen
Judges comments: Every word of this lengthy piece is worth reading. There is emotion
and insight in every paragraph. The section on Dr. Chung alone was worth first place in
Finalists: The Associated Press, “Mom’s Long Goodbye,” Martha Irvine
The Associated Press, “Gene Therapy,” Carla Johnson and Lindsey Tanner
Non-daily Arts Reporting and Criticism
Winner: Chicago Tribune magazine, “‘Life’ Goes On,” Stevenson Swanson
Judges’ comments: An amusing, delightful, insightful story about Ira Glass, the man
behind the voice making a transition into TV, who is as equally as interesting as his
Finalists: Time Out Chicago, “Signs of Trouble,” Christopher Piatt and Kris Vire
Judges’ comments: A provocative, in-depth look at the phenomenon of cities losing their
cultural souls for the sake of Broadway money at the expense of regional theater.
Chicago magazine, “Word Star,” Bryan Smith
Judges’ comments: This article made the judges wish to be in the Range Rover with
Lupe, driving through his hood and listening to his music.
Daily Newspaper Arts Reporting and Criticism
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Riccardo is One Truly Great Trattoria,” Phil Vettel
Judges’ comments: What a wonderfully written and engaging restaurant review. One
judge said: “As someone very familiar with tripe, I appreciated the writer’s take on this
little known delicacy.”
Finalists: Chicago Sun-Times, “A Beautiful Noise,” Miriam Di Nunzio
Judges’ comments: Great writing and a provocative lead just sucked the reader right in to
this piece. It helps that the writer had a worthy and candid subject for the interview.
Chicago Sun-Times, “Confessions of a Harry-Come-Lately,” Kevin Nance
Judges’ comments: This was a nice departure from Pottermania we see in so many other
publications. The lede was perfect and makes you laugh out loud.
Radio Arts Reporting and Criticism
Winner: WBBM Newsradio 780, “The Carillon,” Lisa Fielding
Judges’ comments: A reporter takes us on an audio tour of a Chicago landmark and
paints the word picture very well, culminating with the sounds of the massive instrument
and an explanation as to why it needs renovation. The only complaint is that this feature
wasn’t given more time.
Finalist: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, “Hip Hop Panel: Race and Rap in the Wake
of Imus,” Jim De Rogatis, Greg Kot and Robin Linn
A story or series involving the joint efforts of two or more media organizations, or
employing any combination of newspaper, magazine, radio, television, online or disk
media within a single organization. Work may be in entered in other categories.
Winner: Chicago Tribune and chicagotribune.com, “2007 Illinois School Report Card,”
Judges’ comments: The Tribune’s reporters took the best parts of shoe-leather journalism
– digging for facts, hunting down answers and laborious records finding – narrated
several stories and created a searchable database for public school comparison in Illinois
that efficiently illustrates school scores, performance, assessment and data bits and filters
them through a ranking system broken down to valuable criteria. Wonderful collaboration
that matches multi-disciplinary talents and manufacturers an indispensable watchdog tool
Finalists: CBS2 WBBM-TV and Sun Publications, “Out of Order,” Dave Savini, Michele
Youngerman and Louise Brass
vocalo.org 89.5 FM WBEW Chesterton and The Marshfield Tattler, “Back of the Yards:
Shootings and Shadings,” Dan Weissmann, Francisco Gonzalez and Maritza
Coverage of a news event published in a single edition or aired within 24 hours by a
reporter or reporting team. Judges looked for enterprise, precision, style and impact.
Daily Newspaper, circulation more than 300,000
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Activist Arrested in LA,” Staff
Judges’ comments: Though the staff had some heads up on the possibility of an arrest,
this story fits the concept of “breaking news” better than the other entries. In all cases,
editors had some previous reporting on the story and were ready for the latest news to
break; in this case, there was probably not much warning and the story was filed from LA
in time to make the next day’s edition – plus valuable local reporting and color added by
staff in Chicago. Though I would have liked to see entries dealing with completely
unprepared or unforeseen news events – true “breaking” news – this story best fits the
concept of meeting the challenge of writing on deadline. Good team effort in print the
Finalists: Chicago Sun-Times, “Murder on the No. 3 Bus,” Staff
Judges’ comments: This package might have fared better in the “Criminal justice and
social issues” category of in-depth reporting. The content is balanced, thorough, vivid,
painful and real, and the inclusion of many viewpoints and a commentary truly bring the
reader to the scene in several different ways. Well-written and reported; however, since
the tragedy happened on Thursday, and this package was published on Tuesday, this does
not quite meet the challenge of writing on deadline in the same way as the winning entry
does. I would have preferred seeing what coverage the Sun-Times did online or the next
day in print, or as the story developed with the investigation and arrests.
Chicago Tribune, “Missing for 2 Days, Girl Found Alive,” Staff
Judges’ comments: Again, reporters for this story had some lead time to prepare and
investigate before the news event finally happened; however, they showed good work in
getting the – in this case, both good and bad – news ready for print the next day. The
writing is well balanced between the irony and sadness of the death of a longtime river rat
and the joy of finding a young child alive and well after all feared she had drowned. Well
Daily Newspaper, circulation less than 300,000
Winner: Daily Herald, “Luna Guilty,” Stacy St. Clair, Joseph Ryan and staff
Judges’ comments: Excellent preparation by the writers and editors for a verdict on a
multiple murder that scarred the community for many years. Riveting reporting and
Finalist: Daily Herald, “Region Fights a Flood,” Lisa Smith and staff
Judges’ comment: Coverage of the flooding and catastrophic weather events that
increased in intensity each day was handled thoughtfully and thoroughly, thinking about
how the issues would develop for the communities as water rose. Each day submitted
could have stood by itself.
News Bureau, Wire Service or Online
Winner: The Associated Press, “Ryan Heads to Prison,” Staff
Judges’ comments: Excellent package of stories, well written and compelling. Each story
did exactly what team coverage of an event should do, bring in as many angles and facts
without trampling over each other’s story.
Finalist: The Associated Press, “Missing Girl,” Carla Johnson and Lindsey Tanner
Winner: Modern Healthcare, “Finding Victory in Legal Defeat,” Gregg Blesch
Judges’ comments: Blesch thoroughly hashes out the implications of an FTC decision
contrasting proclamation of a victory by Northwestern Healthcare with the broader
implications for health care in general. The article fares particularly well in describing the
power of hospital networks vs. managed care.
Finalist: Pioneer Press, “Brown’s Chicken Murder Trial,” Northwest Group
Judges’ comments: A great example of team reporting. The May 17 report was
comprehensive in looking at the verdicts from all angles.
Winner: WGN-TV, “First Day of School,” Pam Grimes and Steve Scheuer
Judges’ comments: A superior job of telling an everyday story in an amazing way. Great
charters, great shooting, great writing. All the judges were amazed after watching this
story. This is storytelling done right. All reporters, editors and photographers should
watch this story. We dare you to not be in a good mood after watching this story.
Finalists: CBS 2 WBBM-TV, Storm Coverage, CBS 2 News Team
NBC5 WMAQ-TV, “Bears vs. Colts Fans,” Phil Rogers
Winner: WBBM Newsradio 780, Aug. 23 Storm Coverage, Steve Grzanich and staff
Finalist: WBBM Newsradio 780, Amtrak Accident Coverage, Bob Roberts, John Cody,
Mary Frances Bragiel and staff
Winner: Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, “Divided Families: The Hidden Cost of
Migration,” Catrin Einhorn, Linda Lutton and Julia McEvoy
Judges’ comments: A well-produced look through the eyes and ears of immigrants on the
difficult plight they face when leaving their families for greener pastures in the U.S.
Audio is strong, as are sceners between voiceover and actualities.
Finalist: vocalo.org, “Ghosts of Gary,” Robin Amer
Winner: CLTV Chicagoland’s Television, “Deadly Lessons,” Tonya Francisco
Judges’ comments: Judges saw a good story with some good points. We believed the
storytelling could have been quicker to get to some solutions. But, overall a good job.
Finalists: WTTW11, “The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History,” Dan Protess and
WTTW11, “Chicago Tonight – Manuel Perez,” Rich Samuels
Judges’ comments: Judges believe some other entries were a quality of being a finalist
due to the overall journalism, but the story presentation did not fit the definition of a
“documentary” so the submissions were not judged to be a finalist.
Politics and Government, circulation more than 300,000
Winner: Chicago Sun-Times, “Obama and His Slumlord Patron,” Tim Novak
Judges’ comments: Excellent piece. Every detail of the Obama-Rezko relationship is
exposed with easy to follow along graphics and profiles of the key players involved in the
story. The investigation weaves through every fiber of how one man not only influenced
state politics, but is now the center of a presidential campaign. The stories not only detail
the relationship between Obama and Rezko, but all of Rezko dealings with politicians as
well as Rezko’s sorry-ass landlord skills. The letters written by Obama supporting Rezko
obtained by the Sun-Times reveal a much deeper relationship than just donor to
candidate. Again, an excellent piece.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “Clout in Chicago,” Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty
Chicago Tribune, “Blagojevich Investigation,” David Kidwell, John Chase and Ray Long
Politics and Government, circulation less than 300,000
Winner: The Beacon News, “Landfill Controversy,” Heather Gillers
Judges’ comments: Gillers’ reports on a landfill proposal in Yorkville, kept secret from
builders, demonstrated the kind of digging we see too little of and wrote the results
Finalists: Daily Southtown, “Humbugging and Scheming,” Kim Janssen
Judges’ comments: Janssen’s Humbugging and Scheming entry is a fascinating and
colorfully reported story of scheming in the Markham Police and Fire Commission
office, including a plot to fire a female officer.
The Herald News, “Bus Barn Bungle,” Catherine Ann Velasco
Judges’ comments: Velasco also demonstrated a stern refusal to back off in the face of
official stonewalling to report on plans to build a huge school bus parking site and related
facilities in Plainfield Township.
Education, circulation more than 300,000
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “The Toughest Assignment,” Stephanie Banchero
Judges’ comments: Banchero’s information-rich, yet quickly paced accounts of a crucial
test year in a reopened school and the implications on 34 students and their teacher
engage and move without stooping to sentimentality. Her compelling storytelling made
me smile, cry and root for these students and the educator who ultimately took another
job, partly for her own health. A powerful portrait of the challenges – for both students
and teachers – within struggling inner-city schools. Bravo.
Finalist: Chicago Tribune, “Chicago State University Scandal,” Jodi S. Cohen
Judges’ comments: Clear, concise pieces delineate Chicago State officials’ questionable
practices in recommending student loan providers and the university president’s sketchily
documented expenditures on taxpayers’ dimes. The words detailing the administrator’s
cruises, accompanied by family members, hung with me long after reading, and
evidentially with Cohen’s audience as well — as the president and university implemented
changes in their reimbursement documentation process. Excellent, compelling writing. A
tie for first, if that had been possible.
Education, circulation less than 300,000
Winner: Daily Herald, “School Finance 101,” Emily Krone, Tim Sheil and staff
Judges’ comments: An ambitious, in-depth series tackling the ins and outs of school
finance. The exhaustive pieces culminate in a look into students’ achievement in the
classroom, asking readers to decide whether – or in what way – funding is the problem in
public education struggles. Numbers-thick stories like these can overwhelm, but you
provided useful intro summaries and graphics to help guide readers along the way. My
only request would have been more use of these engagingly stated summaries throughout.
Finalist: Daily Herald, “U46 Superintendent’s pay,” Emily Krone
Judges’ comments: Krone traced a seemingly small incident – a school board member’s
resignation in protest over giving a bonus to the district’s superintendent – to said
administrator’s atypically large salary and retirement benefits, which had apparently been
assumed consistent with similar districts elsewhere by the board and community. Nice
job in pushing for more information as the story unfolded in a dogged effort to keep
Science, Health, Technology or Environment, circulation more than 300,000
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “The Great Nuclear Giveaway,” Sam Roe
Judges’ comments: A great narrative piece. Writer shows both excellent research skills
matched with terrific writing. The story is fascinating and keeps the
reader interested through to the last paragraph. The writer captures the
drama of secret meetings and relays the high stakes involved for the
planet in an easy to understand narrative.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “Overheated Planet: Seeking Solutions,” David Greising
Chicago Tribune, “The Story of Jamie,” Rex W. Huppke
Science, Health, Technology or Environment, circulation less than 300,000
Winner: Daily Herald, “In the Shadow of Huntington’s” Susan Stevens
Judges’ comments: This was a great category with all of the entries providing valuable
information. But Susan Stevens’ story stood out for one simple reason – tell me a story.
Not only could the reader learn a great deal about Huntington’s Disease, but the story of
the Jackowski family and the toll Huntington’s Disease has taken on them gives the story
Finalists: The Courier News, Water Series, Steven Ross Johnson and Nicole Brooks
SouthtownStar, “Patient Denied: SouthtownStar efforts help man get insurance for
chemo,” Clare Walters
Criminal Justice and Social Issues, circulation more than 300,000
Winner: Chicago Tribune, “Family Secrets,” Jeff Coen
Judges’ comments: Riveting coverage of a mob trial, with extensive backgrounding.
Reporter obviously immersed himself in this case to be able to turn his court stories with
such precision and knowledge. The top entry in a brutally tough field.
Finalists: Chicago Tribune, “Police Misconduct,” David Heinzmann
Judges’ comments: Another terrific series of stories – exposing police misconduct in
great detail. Great job shining the sun on these rogue police officers.
Chicago Tribune, “A Great Migration,” Charles Leroux
Judges’ comments: Leroux took what could be a routine numbers story and humanized it.
Nice research and use of the history of one house to illustrate the migration outward of
Criminal Justice and Social Issues, circulation less than 300,000
Winner: The Beacon News, “Cold Cases,” Matt Hanley
Judges’ comments: Lots of cops reporters do cold case reporting, but not like Matt
Hanley. Exceptional attention to detail made this series stand out. Hanley’s writing is
Finalists: The Beacon News, “Ex-cons: Life after a Life of Crime,” Matt Hanley, Justina
Wang and Dave Garby
Judges’ comments: This series of stories illustrates exactly why recidivism back to the
world of crime is as high as it is. Great subject, examined well. Society makes it tough to
live any kind of normal life after an inmate is released from prison. Excellent writing
helped push this over the top.
Daily Southtown, “Police Department in Disarray,” William Lee, Lauren FitzPatrick and
Judges’ comments: Great coverage of corruption from the top down. These reporters
dogged the stories and exposed deep fissures in municipal government and the police
News Bureau, Wire Service, Online Report or Series
Winner: The Associated Press, “Youth on Trial,” Sharon Cohen
Judges’ comments: Terrific job of exploring every angle and revealing how a well-
effort backfired. Reporter does an excellent job of research and using numerous sources.
Well written for the reader to easily understand the problem and the attempted solutions
which are now causing even more problems.
Finalists: The Associated Press, “Teacher Sex Abuse,” Martha Irvine and Robert Tanner
Creating Community Connections and The Beachwood Reporter, “Public Payroll, Family
Affairs: Aldermen Keep It Relative,” Allison Riggio, Hunter Clauss and Suzanne
Business Magazine or Newspaper
Winner: Pensions & Investments, “What did we Learn?,” Jay Cooper and Barry B. Burr
Judges’ comments: All too often, Wall Street’s activities are reported in a vacuum,
devoid of stock market history that might help readers better understand its movements.
This story provides that history and comments from those who can put it into the most
meaningful context in a very readable format. Their comments also personalize a
financial story that often is told using numbers and referencing trends only.
Finalists: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Shifting Fortunes,” Greg Hinz
Judges’ comments: As a rare analysis of a city’s economic data over a significant period
of time, this entry provides an important assessment of where it has gained and lost. Even
though it is research and numbers-driven, the story emphasizes the people experiencing
those gains and losses and reports its conclusions in an easy-to-understand format that is
jargon-free. The graphic gives readers a quick, but comprehensive look at where the
city’s varying industries have stood and expect to stand in the future.
BusinessWeek, “The CEO of City Hall,” Joseph Weber and Bob Reed
Judges’ comments: This entry serves as an example of how profiles should be reported,
organized and written. It draws readers in using personal details, tells them why they
should want to know about Daley, provides context – including the issues he faces and
the analysis of his performance from those in his orbit. The brief but targeted sidebar
shows a broad take on Daley’s performance using benchmarks readers would relate to.
Winner: Vibe, “The Trial of R. Kelly,” Abdon M. Pallasch
Judges’ comments: This well-researched explicit and balanced report provides insight
into the artist turned defendant. This report reflects on society’s love of cultural heroes
and does an outstanding job of outlining Kelly’s importance as an artist while bluntly
chronicling his personal travails. Pallasch also provides insight into the creaky wheels of
justice and how a once high-profile case can sink into legal muck.
Chicago magazine, “Two soldiers,” Bryan Smith
Judges’ comments: A poignant look at two childhood friends who died serving their
country in Iraq. The article provides heart-rending details of the agony of two sets of
parents. This article gains power by eschewing political rhetoric and focusing on the
Finalists: Chicago magazine, “The Speech,” David Bernstein
Judges’ comments: Bernstein captures a seminal event in recent U.S. political history and
provides a fly-on-the-wall look at how Barrack Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention
keynote speech was fashioned. The reader feels like he or she is watching the speech
come together piece by piece.
Winner: Pioneer Press, “No Place to Call Home: Homelessness in the Northwest
Suburbs,” Northwest Group
Judges: comments: A thoughtful, thorough look at a tough subject with some crisp
detailed writing and obvious effort on the part of reporters.
Finalist: Pioneer Press, “Many Routes – One Destination,” Niles Herald-Spectator Staff
Judges: comments: An exhaustive look at a topic central to Chicago area’s identity with
good collaboration and solid reporting.
Trade or Specialty Magazine, Newspaper or Newsletter
Winner: The Chicago Reporter, “Where the Jobs Are” Series, Kimbriell Kelly, Jeff
Kelly Lowenstein and Angelica Herrera
Judges’ comments: “Wow!” about all the entries. Chicago readers are well served by this
city’s talented and dedicated journalists. “Where the Jobs Are” is an impressive body of
work. Authoritative and definitive analysis of massive amounts of data paints an
irrefutable picture of what is happening in Chicago’s lower-tier workforce. The data is
made more relevant through the eyes of those living the numbers. Kimbriell Kelly, Jeff
Kelly Lowenstein and Angelica Herrera flex some serious reporting and writing muscles.
Finalists: Catalyst Chicago, “Safe Haven?,” Sharon Karp
Judges’ comments: Associate Editor Sarah Karp drills down deep into what has to be one
of the most critical issues facing Chicago and every other American school. The package
is comprehensive and striking in its detail of the realities of the Chicago Public Schools
system. Karp’s balance is unique in that it illustrates not just the problem-makers but the
problem- solvers as well.
The Chicago Reporter, “Work It,” Kimbriell Kelly and Casey Sanchez
Judges’ comments: Incredible data mining and analysis. This laid the reporting
groundwork to nail the practice of employee campaign coffer lining through the heart.
Sharp reporting drives the story and gives readers the info to determine for themselves if
city workers are expected to buy job longevity. I am shocked that Illinois doesn’t cap
campaign contributions. Serious research chops by Kimbriell Kelly and Casey Sanchez.
Hard Television News
Winner: CBS 2 WBBM-TV, “Fly at Your Own Risk,” Dave Savini and Michele
Judges’ comments: Judges believe this is journalism and investigative journalism as
what it is supposed to be. A great story. This story grew legs because there were so many
problems. The tenacious journalism poked a hole in the dam and a flood of problems
Finalists: CBS 2 WBBM-TV, “Exposing Blagojevich,” Mike Flannery and Ed Marshall
NBC5 WMAQ-TV, “No Accident,” Robin Green, Lisa Parker and Mark Ringo
Radio Report or Series
Winner: WGN Radio, “Why Not Me?,” Judy Pielach
Judges’ comments: This was by far the hardest and most competitive of all radio
categories. There were many deserving submissions, but Judy Pielach’s poignant personal
journey, bravely doing her job while fighting the ravages of breast cancer and the double
mastectomy that followed, beat them all. The reporter documents the toughest time of her
life by being open and keeping the issue in perspective. Many in her situation would
simply have shut the door, but following her journalistic instincts, Pielach makes this
compelling radio. Well done.
Finalists: WGN Radio, “Voices of War,” Jim Gudas
Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, “Lake Michigan in the Age of Climate Change,”
Sandy Hausman, Julia McEvoy and Sally Eisele
Spanish-language Print, Wire-Service or Online Report