Chauncey Bailey Project

Bay Area media unite to finish Bailey’s work

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An unusual media coalition has formed to complete slain journalist Chauncey Bailey’s work.

By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, Chauncey Bailey Project

When Oakland Post editor Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. was murdered Aug. 2, questions arose as to who could have committed such an act, in broad daylight, and what could have motivated the killing.

Devaughndre Broussard, a 19-year-old handyman for Your Black Muslim Bakery, has confessed to and been charged with the crime. Although he has since recanted his confession, at the time of his arrest police said he killed Bailey because he didn’t like what had been written about the bakery.

Much remains unanswered about the incidents surrounding and leading up to Bailey’s death – exactly what was he working on and was it so explosive it warranted someone deciding to take his life?

In an effort to pick up where Bailey left off, a rare coalition of media “rivals” and scholastic colleagues, and more than two dozen reporters, photographers and editors from both print, broadcast and electronic media have formed the Chauncey Bailey Project – an investigative team that will continue and expand on the reporting Bailey was pursuing at the time of his death.

In the spirit of honoring a fallen colleague, the Chauncey Bailey Project endeavors to put collaboration before competition. “We as an industry cannot stand for a member of the press to be gunned down in the course of doing his job. That’s a threat to democracy, that’s a threat to journalism,” said Dori J. Maynard, president and chief executive officer for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. “People liken it to when a judge is killed in the course of doing his job. When people go after journalists or judges or other people … every death is important … but this also casts a chilling effect on the public discourse of democracy in our community.We are going to complete the work that Chauncey started and we’re going to let people know that the killing of journalists is not going to end the story.”Although several local media have reported on the circumstances that may have led to Bailey’s death, the efforts of this project will delve deeper.“This is a unique collaboration and we hope our work goes beyond Bailey’s murder and reveals broader issues that impact the lives of Oakland’s citizens,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, former managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and one of the coordinators of the project.What promises to be the largest collective journalistic endeavor since the Arizona Project was formed 31 years ago in the aftermath of the murder of Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles, are reporters, writers, editors and photographers from the following organizations:Bay Area Black Journalists Association
Bay Area News Group papers: The Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News
CBS 5
Center for Investigative Reporting
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.
KGO-AM
KQED Public Radio
KTVU-TV
Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
National Association of Black Journalists
New America Media
New Voices in Independent Journalism
San Francisco State University Journalism Department
San Francisco Bay Guardian
San Jose State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Sigma Delta Chi Foundation
Society of Professional Journalists – Northern California Chapter
University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism

Pete Wevurski, managing editor of Bay Area News Group-East Bay and editor for the Oakland Tribune, said he’s pleased the Tribune has taken a lead role in the project, and that its BANG partners, specifically the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News, are involved in “this noble effort.”

“Chauncey Bailey was a colleague and friend to many of us and we want to honor his work and our profession by picking up the standard that fell the morning he was assassinated,” Wevurski said. “I’m extremely gratified by the numbers and caliber of journalists who have joined this coalition, and I’m astounded by the work they are turning in already.

“This project is essential to Oakland and essential to us as journalists who wish to emphasize the point that you can kill the messenger, but the message is still going to get through. Based on that alone, I believe this will be the most important work any of us have ever done and ever will do.”

For more information about the Chauncey Bailey Project or its collaborators, contact Dori J. Maynard of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education at (510) 684-3071.

Caption: Felecia Brown sign a note of condolence as her daughter, Unyque, watches at a memorial on the spot where Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey was gunned down on Aug. 2, 2007, in Oakland, Calif. Brown said she was a student of Bailey’s when he was working at KDIA radio. (D. Ross Cameron, Oakland Tribune)

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