Chauncey Bailey Project

Bailey Project helps keep journalist’s work alive

dave newhouse
dave newhouse
By Dave Newhouse, Chauncey Bailey Project

All across America, journalists were shocked by the muder of Chauncey Bailey, the Oakland Post editor who was gunned down, gangland-style, on the same Oakland streets he sought to make safer through investigative reporting.

Journalists are killed overseas, but not in this country, or so we believed until Aug. 2 when Bailey was slain. But the media members who’ve taken his violent death the hardest are other African Americans.

Bailey was a newsman’s newsman, but he also was a colleague, a brother and an inspiration to all blacks who’ve struggled to gain a foothold in the media mainstream, even here in the liberal-minded Bay Area.

Greg Edmonds, KGO radio reporter: “(Bailey) was intense, he was dedicated, he had qualities I admired. I thought, ‘I need to be more like him.’ Then he was killed. It was devastating. It reminded me how dangerous the job is. You have to be fearless and ask the probing, dangerous question. His death reminded us how important our job is and how bold we need to be.”

Barbara Rodgers, KPIX-TV anchor: “It makes all of us have to worry about our safety. You hear about these things happening in Third World countries. You don’t hear of it happening here, and from a group (Your Black Muslim Bakery) that (once) had a reputation for doing good in the community.”

A young man affiliated with the bakery has been charged with Bailey’s killing.

Bailey’s death has led to a unique local journalistic bonding. A host of local news outlets, journalism schools and national journalism organizations have come together to form the Chauncey Bailey Project, which is dedicated to continuing his investigative work and his message of community-centric reporting.

However, several area media entities have declined to join the project, citing various reasons, including possible exclusivity of information regarding the investigation of Bailey’s death.

Martin G. Reynolds, Oakland Tribune managing editor: “I’m a little disappointed some have chosen to criticize the collaboration and how it came together … this project isn’t supposed to be about any of us – it’s about how one of our own was ruthlessly killed. But we will keep moving, doing this project with one goal in mind: To remind the world why journalism is important, and those committed to the craft serve the greater good.”

Rodgers: “We will not be intimidated, we will not back down from a tough story. And (Your Black Muslim Bakery) definitely didn’t do themselves any good, because the (Bailey) story is being covered worldwide and they’ve put themselves out of business.”

Monte Poole, Oakland Tribune sports columnist: “Chauncey was someone who worked hard to be a force in the community and he became that. His death was a senseless murder: It’s the gangster mentality that took him away from us. It’s a great thing, people bonding together to say that we’re not going to give up the streets. This is the media taking a stand, unlike people in the community who lost somebody. Well, the media lost somebody. He stood for something and we believe in what he stood for.”

Poole and retired KGO-TV sports anchor Martin Wyatt were honored at an Oct. 18 luncheon by the Bay Area Black Journalists Association, which introduced the Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. Scholarship, which will be presented annually to young, aspiring black journalists.

Wyatt: “(Bailey’s death) was such a shock and a wake-up call. That’s a unique kind of guy, the investigative guy, who would take the hit. It’s hard to replace that kind of guy. In the black community, a teacher was looked up to, especially a professor. And a journalist had a special place. I don’t know where it’s gone, but maybe this (tragedy) will raise up another guy to fill (Bailey’s) void.”

Bailey was a reporter at the Oakland Tribune from 1993 to 2005.

Reynolds: “Chauncey’s death left me very upset and then very angry. The first thing that came to mind was his son … We saw little Chauncey grow up in the newsroom. So to know someone took his father and he would be without a dad who adored him really sent me over the edge.”

KCBS reporter Bob Butler is president of BABJA, founded in 1981, while Oakland Tribune City Editor Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig is its vice president.

Butler: “Chauncey was the black community’s champion. But he wasn’t killed because he was a black journalist. He was killed – and the (Oakland) police believe the same thing – because he was a journalist. We have to look deeper because Chauncey was working on many stories. It’s so important that we show students what it takes to be a journalist; it takes dedication. These are the journalists of the future, who will be here when we’re gone.”

Fitzhugh-Craig: “Instead of feeling fear that (a similar tragedy) could happen to me or someone here at the Trib, it lit a fire in me to not want to give Chauncey’s killer(s) the power of trying to silence his message. We as journalists hold the power of sharing the truth with our readers. If there is a truth that Chauncey wanted to be known, the Chauncey Bailey Project will make sure it is told.”

Dave Newhouse writes his Good Neighbors column for the Bay Area News Group. Phone (510) 208-6466 or e-mail dnewhouse@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Caption: Dave Newhouse (Staff photo/The Oakland Tribune)

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