‘The Price Kids Pay,’ ‘Tylenol Murders’ among Tribune’s Lisagor award winners

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The Chicago Tribune and ProPublica won the Chicago Headline Club’s 2022 Watchdog Award for “The Price Kids Pay,” an investigation that exposed the unfair practice of school officials and local police working together to punish students with costly tickets for minor misbehavior at school.

The prize was announced Friday at the 46th annual Peter Lisagor Awards, where “The Price Kids Pay” — a collaboration between the Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and ProPublica’s Jodi S. Cohen — also won two “best all media” awards, for investigative reporting and data journalism, as well as two other Lisagor awards for large print/online newsrooms: best investigative reporting and best education reporting.

Winning best feature or human interest series in all media was the Tribune’s “Unsealed: The Tylenol Murders,” a serial narrative exploring the investigation into the unsolved 1982 poisonings, by Christy Gutowski and Stacy St. Clair. A companion podcast produced by At Will Media and the Tribune won the prize for best podcast. “The Tylenol Murders” also won for best multimedia feature presentation and best feature reporting series by a large print/online newsroom.

In the large online/print newsroom category, the Tribune also won:

Also Friday, Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson was honored with a lifetime achievement award along with Dorothy Tucker of WBBM-Ch.2, Phil Ponce of WTTW-Ch. 11 and independent investigative reporter Chuck Neubauer.

Denise Crosby, a longtime columnist for the Beacon-News, a sister paper of the Tribune that covers the Aurora area, won the Anne Keegan Award. The award is named after a legendary late Tribune reporter and “honors writers who tell stories of ordinary people in extraordinarily well-reported and well-written prose.”

Chicago Magazine, produced by Tribune Publishing, won for best community reporting for “The Death (and Possible Rebirth) of Jackowo” by Mary Wisniewski, Joanna Marszalek and Zbigniew Bzdak.

The Chicago Headline Club’s watchdog award honors “outstanding reporting that calls attention to situations in which the public is being harmed or poorly served by the government, institutions or businesses at any level.”

Of “The Price Kids Pay,” the judges wrote that the investigation into school ticketing and “tireless” follow-up reporting “resonated across the state, leading to official commitments to end the practice. Combining exhaustive pavement-pounding with public records reporting and data analysis, the series is a model for accountability journalism, local or otherwise — and the kind of investigative work that reminds reporters why we do what we do. It’s an outstanding achievement.”