The Lisagor awards, which recognize the best Chicago journalism every year, were just announced; thanks to the magic of the Internet, many of the nominated stories are still freely available. (Many are not because the Sun-Times and its STNG family, to my displeasure, don't roll like that. Too bad.)
As you'd hope, the nominated works provide compelling reading. Some highlights:
* Paul Salopek of the Tribune--one of the country's finest journalists--is nominated for his four-part series on oil, which is a masterpiece. The Trib's new media division also snagged a nomination for its Flash-based multimedia adaptation of the series.
* You may dismiss a story on the social pressure to excel at golf in the business world as lite. I wish I'd thought of it, because it's great. It's up against another Crain's piece on death in the workplace. While acknowledging the importance of the latter, I humbly submit my officially meaningless vote for the former.
* The venerable Chicago Reporter was nominated for stories on Harold Ickes as a CHA dumping ground and a woman caught in the middle of the CHA's Plan for Transformation. The author of these stories (who is a friend), once pointed out to me that the Plan for Transformation is an urban exodus on the scale of the Katrina displacement. It's harder to notice because it's gradual, but it's going on all around you.
* The Sun-Times has the government and politics category in its weight class sewn up, for two series on clout (only Clout's Sick List is online) and one on the state's mishandling of veterans' services. The latter is by Cheryl Reed, who does double duty as books editor and investigative reporter.
* The Tribune's David Heinzmann is up for a story in his series on Christina Eilman, the young Los Angeles woman who was released from jail in the vicinity of the Robert Taylor Homes, where she was sexually assaulted and later fell seven stories; she survived, but suffered severe brain damage. When the vivid and bleak history of the Chicago Police Department is told, this shouldn't be left out.
* Competing with the Eilman stories for the unofficial title of most heartbreaking series is the Tribune's Throwaway Lives, on undocumented workers. Side note: the online comments section is the Abyss, but it adds richness. Dark, soul-crushing richness.
* Of course you're all wondering: how'd the Reader do? Quite well in business news: Nicholas Day on why you can't buy Bell's here anymore, Scott Eden on Chicago's first bike messenger collective, and Catrin Einhorn and Linda Lutton on the seasonal workers from a tiny Mexican town who process most of Illinois' pumpkins.
* Scott Eden got a second nomination in sports reporting for his cover story on the Chicago Griffins Rugby Football Club and the bar that exists to support it.
* Designer Godfrey Carmona was nominated for our fall fashion issue layout; the print copy's not online, but an online simulacrum is.
Coming soon (I hope): a look at the radio nominees.