Silenced journalist captures coveted reporting prize
Slain journalist receives honor for local reporting.
By G.W. Schulz, Chauncey Bailey Project
East Bay journalist Chauncey Bailey has posthumously received the prestigious George Polk Award for Local Reporting six months after he was shot to death on an Oakland street, allegedly by a handyman who worked at the once-powerful Your Black Muslim Bakery.
At the time of his death, Bailey was reporting on the bakery empire’s financial troubles, which by then included bankruptcy proceedings. Younger bakery associates have since been linked to real estate fraud, kidnapping, torture and murder allegations that together have spelled the dramatic downfall of an institution once considered a formidable force in East Bay politics.
Bailey was the first journalist to be murdered on American soil in nearly 15 years.
Long Island University began presenting the Polk Award annually in 1949 to honor the legacy of a CBS correspondent slain while covering a civil war in Greece. Past winners have included Edward R. Murrow; Sy Hersh, the New Yorker contributor who helped to expose the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and later the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; populist crusader I.F. Stone; and A.C. Thompson, a former Guardian staffer who won the award in 2005 for a series of stories about public housing in San Francisco.
The Guardian, along with several other media organizations, is investigating the circumstances surrounding Bailey’s death and the activities of the Bey family, founders of the bakery. The Chauncey Bailey Project has so far published several stories since the journalist’s death, which are available at www.sfbg.com/news/chaunceybailey.