Commentary: Chauncey Bailey Project
By Richard Prince
COMMENTARY – “If anyone thought Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey’s work would die when he was gunned down on Aug. 2, 2007, they were terribly wrong. Within weeks, about three dozen reporters, editors and other volunteers gathered in Oakland to finish his work,” the Chauncey Bailey Project’s Web site states proudly.
“Our goal is to hammer home this point: ‘You can’t kill a story by killing a journalist.’”
The project is loosely modeled on the Arizona Project, which in 1976 brought journalists from around the country to Phoenix to finish the work of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, who was killed by a car bomb while he was investigating the Mafia.
The idea for the project started with a message to this column from freelance journalist Kenneth J. Cooper and took off from there. Work began under the leadership of Dori J. Maynard, president and CEO of the Maynard Institute, and Sandy Close, executive editor of New America Media in San Francisco, with a number of other journalism organizations, including Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the National Association of Black Journalists, present at the creation.
In 2008, the project won IRE’s Tom Renner Award “For outstanding reporting covering organized crime or other criminal acts,” and NABJ’s Best Practices Award.
In one recent example of the project’s work, it reported on Dec. 16 that, “The August 2007 raid on Your Black Muslim Bakery was postponed 48 hours to accommodate the vacation schedules of two senior SWAT commanders, a delay that likely cost journalist Chauncey Bailey his life, according to police sources and a lawyer representing an officer deeply involved in planning the raid.”