Chauncey Bailey Project

Journalists to receive courage award for work on Chauncey Bailey Project

Project reporters and editors: Center, Mike Oliver; left to right, Josh Richman, Thomas Peele, Robert Rosenthal, Martin Reynolds
Project reporters and editors: Center, Mike Oliver; left to right, Josh Richman, Thomas Peele, Robert Rosenthal, Martin Reynolds

Project reporters and editors: Center, Mike Oliver; left to right, Josh Richman, Thomas Peele, Robert Rosenthal, Martin Reynolds

By Sean Maher, Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — Four journalists from The Chauncey Bailey Project, an investigative campaign launched after the Oakland journalist’s 2007 killing to pursue both Bailey’s work and his killers, will be honored in March with the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage.

The project, composed of journalists from dozens of Bay Area news organizations and schools, reached a milestone in April 2009 with the indictment of Yusuf Bey IV, a former head of Oakland’s Your Black Muslim Bakery who was long been suspected of ordering Bailey’s killing.

Bailey had been investigating Your Black Muslim Bakery, suspected as a criminal organization, before his death, and many believed he was killed as result of his work, prompting the project’s launch. Devaughndre Broussard, the bakery worker who has since confessed to killing Bailey, later said Bey told him to kill Bailey “to stop the story.”

The award, given out by the University of Georgia, will go to Thomas Peele, Josh Richman, Mary Fricker and Bob Butler. Peele and Richman are Bay Area News Group reporters.

“We simply did what we had to do after a friend and colleague was slain for his work,” Richman said. “If a story dies along with the journalist, the journalist died in vain; letting that happen was never an option.”

Bey IV is now in jail awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping and torture in May 2007 and on charges that he ordered the July 2007 killing of two men and August 2007 killing of Bailey.

The award is named after the late Ralph McGill, who edited and published The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was often referred to as “the conscience of the South” for his writing against racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s.

“To win an award that memorializes the work of Ralph McGill is a high honor,” Peele said. “He was a courageous newspaperman and, more importantly, a courageous American.”

Courage was what prompted Oakland Tribune Editor Martin G. Reynolds to nominate the reporters for the award, he said.

“A reporter was killed and they continued and expanded his work despite obvious dangers,” Reynolds wrote. “Their reportage forced the indictment of the group’s leader on murder charges for ordering the assassination.”

The four reporters will travel to Georgia to accept the award March 24 at the University of Georgia.

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