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.