Tribune staffers honored for stories on lax fire safety, gun violence and ‘ordinary people’; photography; and lifetime achievement. – Chicago Tribune

Tribune staffers on Friday were honored by the Chicago Headline Club with awards for investigative, public service and feature reporting, photography, lifetime achievement and reporting “of ordinary people.”

The awards were presented at the Headline Club’s 45th annual Peter Lisagor Awards dinner at the Union League Club of Chicago.

Reporter Madeline Buckley received the prestigious Anne Keegan Award, named for a legendary Tribune writer who died in 2011. The award is given to a journalist “who tells stories of ordinary people in extraordinary well-reported and well-written prose.” Buckley is the seventh Tribune reporter to win the award.

Buckley’s award-winning work included stories on the aftermath of a fatal shooting of a college student on the CTA Green Line, a Holocaust survivor whose family could not visit her while she was recovering from COVID-19 in a nursing home, and a beloved food pantry volunteer who was hospitalized for nine months with COVID-19.

The investigation “The Failures Before the Fires,” a collaboration between the Tribune and the Better Government Association, received four awards: best investigative reporting, best multimedia collaboration, best investigative/public service online reporting, and best use of news video online.

Reporters Cecilia Reyes of the Tribune and Madison Hopkins of the BGA revealed that at least 61 men, women and children died in 42 fires in buildings where Chicago officials had been warned — often repeatedly — of major fire safety issues. They also documented systemic shortfalls in Chicago’s building enforcement program, revealing a convoluted system of informal rules, outdated records and lax oversight that put the interests of landlords above the safety of tenants. Many of the city’s failures, the reporters found, directly contributed to the deaths.

In addition to Hopkins and Reyes, others named in the awards were Kaarin Tisue, Armando Sanchez, Jonathon Berlin and Andrew Johnston from the Tribune, and David Kidwell, Olivia Obineme and Alex Garcia from the BGA.

A two-part series that explained how stolen firearms from a burglarized gun shop in Superior, Wisconsin, were used to terrorize Chicago for more than a year won the best feature series award, presented to Tribune reporters Jeremy Gorner, Annie Sweeney and Rose Sobol, and photographer E. Jason Wambsgans.

The reporting focused on one of the firearms, a 9 mm Glock 17 handgun, that alone was linked to 27 shootings — a path of destruction that left two people dead and 22 others wounded. Authorities believe that could be the most shootings ever connected to a single gun in Chicago through a ballistic imaging program administered by federal law enforcement. The series also surveyed the neighborhoods and the people most affected by the gun’s use.

Wambsgans also won for best photography and for best photo for photos of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Former Tribune columnist and reporter Dahleen Glanton was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award. Glanton started at the Tribune in 1989 and left the paper last year. The Headline Club noted that as a columnist, she “addressed a variety of subjects but made a specialty of encouraging dialogue on race, poverty and violence.” She was also the Tribune’s Atlanta bureau chief and covered major stories that included Hurricane Katrina, President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, and military families during the Iraq War.

Radio reporter Bill Cameron, who became “Dean of the City Hall Pressroom” in a half-century of radio reporting in Chicago, also received a lifetime achievement award. Cameron covered nine Chicago mayors.

The Lisagor Awards, established in 1977, are named for Peter Lisagor, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Daily News from 1959 to 1976.

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