Chauncey Bailey Project

Commentary: Oakland journalist gunned down

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Veteran Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey was shot to death Thursday morning on an Oakland street in what police are calling an assassination-style killing, according to Oakland news reports. He was editor-in-chief of the Post Newspapers, which includes black papers in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Francisco and Southern Alameda County, Calif. Bailey was a longtime reporter for the Oakland Tribune and assumed the Post editorship in June.

“Witnesses told police a masked gunman shot a man, then fled on foot to a waiting van and

drove off. Police have not released a name but sources said that Bailey, 57, was the apparent victim,” the Tribune reported. “The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Police said they have no motive for the killing, except that it appeared to be a deliberate attack, and no suspects have been arrested.

“‘We have not ruled out anything, including whether it was work-related or a personal dispute,’ said Oakland homicide Sgt. Derwin Longmire. ‘But this was no random act. He was the target of a deliberate murder,'” the Tribune reported.

“Police spokesman Roland Holmgren said investigators believe the shooting was an assassination-style hit,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Bailey, who lived in Oakland and has a teenage son, was known for his assertive style of questioning city officials, Holmgren said.

“He was well known in the African American community and was often invited to speak as an expert on black issues. In more than a decade at the Oakland Tribune, he covered African American issues ranging from AIDS in the black community to prison-sentencing policy to minority college enrollment.

“Bailey was fired from the Tribune in 2005 for ethics violations, including instances when he mixed personal affairs with business, according to several former colleagues. He went on to work for the Post as a freelance foreign correspondent, covering stories in Vietnam and Haiti, and was named editor of the publication in June.”

He said when he was named, “I think you need a strong African American newspaper, but not as a substitute for the Tribune. We’re sort of like a literary vitamin pill, a wider reading menu to stay healthy.”

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums issued a statement saying, “Chauncey will be missed. He was at every media event and he always asked the first question. His questions were thoughtful and you knew that he sought to truly inform the public,” according to the Chronicle.

Bailey worked until 1993 at the Detroit News and earlier was at the Hartford Courant, starting his career in the black press, at the San Francisco Sun Reporter.

He was a 1974 graduate of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University, a class that included Karlynn Carrington, bank industry analyst; Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, Washington Post; M. Alexis Scott Reeves, publisher, Atlanta Daily World; and David Tong, assistant business editor, San Francisco Chronicle, according to a follow-up study of graduates presented to the 2006 convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Tong was laid off in June. The Columbia program was a precursor of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

“African Americans have a lost a champion and the world has lost an outstanding journalist,” Bob Butler, president of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association, said in a statement.

“Another friend expressed shock,” the Tribune reported. “I’ve made phone calls all over telling people,” said Sharon Broussard, a friend of Bailey’s for at least 10 years, in the story. “They can’t believe it. He’s done so much for the community. I can’t believe something like this, so tragic, would happen to someone who really cares about black people in Oakland and as a whole.” A Tribune reporter said Broussard is not the editorial writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer with that name.

David Glover, whose friendship with Bailey dates back to the 80s, when Bailey worked in Oakland as a mentor to young people, said ‘It’s just shocking and unbelievable.’ He added, ‘I have no idea why anyone would do it. Chauncey Bailey was a consummate professional.” Glover recalled Bailey as a tireless advocate for journalism— especially the need to attract more blacks and people of color to the field — and a good friend. “This is not just a local loss, this is a loss to the field nationally,’ said Glover, executive director of OCCUR — the Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal.

“‘His work over the years has probably been responsible for an innumerable set of people being involved in the industry. I know he has been an inspiration to a lot of people.’ Glover first met Bailey when he worked with OCCUR, mentoring young people who aspired to careers in journalism. Bailey also had created a Black Press Weekly, a compilation of significant articles from black newspapers around the country.”

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