CHICAGO — Block Club Chicago was named Publisher of the Year and received three other honors at this year’s LION Publishers Local Journalism Awards.
The annual awards recognize excellence in journalism and business at local independent online news publishers. The ceremony was held Tuesday night.
Block Club was named Publisher of the Year in the medium/large category.
“Block Club Chicago’s emphasis on consistent presence in neighborhoods to build trust has made it a leader in community-rooted local news,” a judge wrote. “The team’s responsiveness to people’s needs during the pandemic demonstrates the organization’s core commitment to public service and public trust. The range of storytelling is impressive, as is the creativity on the business side.”
Its other awards:
- Best Visual Journalism Project, for its “A Year of Loss” project, which marked one year since COVID-19 had come to Chicago and included nearly 30 stories, videos, photos, interactive graphics and a specialty newsletter. “Outstanding. The videos were beautifully shot and incredibly compelling,” a judge wrote. “So little of COVID coverage has been about the grief we all feel and share. I deeply appreciated the level of dedication and craft committed to this effort.”
- Best Breaking News, for its coverage of the killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by police, including stories that provided context on the officer who killed Toledo, resident reactions and policy changes that were announced by officials in response to the killing.
- Best Coverage of Protests And Movements, for its sensitive coverage of the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and the subsequent community protests. “Block Club Chicago deserves to be lauded for the editorial decision to publish two versions of the story, with and without the graphic video,” a judge wrote. “Giving readers the choice about what they need to see without being retraumatized is a thoughtful approach, and one more newsrooms should consider.”
Block Club tied in the Best Visual Journalism Project and Best Breaking news categories with Borderless and San José Spotlight, respectively.
See all of the LION Publishers Local Journalism Awards winners here.
Block Club was also a finalist for:
- Best Solutions Project of the Year, for its free, bilingual COVID-19 hotline that connects people to testing, vaccines, rent relief and other critical information and resources.
- Public Service Award, for its reporting on Ida Nelson, a mother fighting to change the rules at her 4-year-old son’s school after it forced her to remove his braids. Ida and her son are Black. The story inspired a state senator to write a bill, which became law, that bans anti-Black hair discrimination across the entire state.
- Collaboration of the Year, for its impactful collaboration with the Better Government Association to produce a running series of investigative reports that exposed mismanagement and corruption at a Loretto Hospital.
- General Excellence: Revenue Growth, for capitalizing on local stories to effectively launch merchandise campaigns to raise revenue.
Block Club has published more than 14,000 stories since its launch, covering everything from Chicago’s beloved Chance the Snapper to vaccine scandals at Loretto Hospital. In the past year, its staff has answered more than 900 questions from Chicagoans through its free, bilingual COVID-19 hotline, connecting residents with testing, vaccines, financial relief and more.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: