The Chauncey Bailey Project won two awards at the 2009 Online Journalism Awards event in San Francisco over the weekend. The Project, a collaboration of two dozen news organization that fielded reporters, photographers, journalism students and editors to investigate the 2007 murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, won the Knight Award for Public Service and the Investigative Journalism Award in the Small Site Category.
“We were all extremely proud to be a part of the Chauncey Bailey Project,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, who served as the Project’s executive editor and is executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). “It’s especially meaningful to be honored by your peers, and we are proud to be part of the team that investigated this story. We want to thank the Online News Association for shining a light on the importance of quality investigative journalism in America and congratulate everyone who worked so hard to deliver a story with such impact.”
The collaboration that grew out of Chauncey Bailey’s tragic death is an example of what a diverse group of journalists can do when they agree to collaborate. Soon after Bailey’s murder, Sandy Close of New America Media, Dori Maynard of the Maynard Institute and Linda Jue of the Society of Professional Journalists gathered the many journalists and media outlets that became the Chauncey Bailey Project. Their collective reporting appeared in more than 20 news outlets throughout the Bay Area over the course of two years and led to multiple charges of conspiracy to kill Bailey, investigations of the Oakland Police Departments handling of the homicide, and the suspension of the lead detective on the case.
The judges who awarded The Knight Award for Public Service noted that, “The reporting is good and relentless under what were obviously and literally dangerous circumstances,” and that, “The reporters didn’t shy away from exposing both criminals and police. The Chauncey Bailey Project is absolutely exemplary — a type of investigation that we wish more organizations could pursue. Its role is necessary, the reporting great.” In addition to The Knight Award for Public Service, the Project received a $5,000 cash prize from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
When explaining the best Investigative Journalism, Small Site award, judges stated that the Project was, “A tenacious and precise investigation of an institutional scandal that focuses on the murder of a journalist but explains much more about the community that created the conditions for his death.” The review continues, “…an exceptionally written and presented package….Strong photojournalism and timeline storytelling techniques… Outstanding ongoing effort two years hence.”
Lisa Pickoff-White, who joined CIR’s California Watch project in August 2009 as a multimedia producer, won a separate award for her student work at the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley. Pickoff-White won the Student Journalism, Small Team award for It Happens at Midnight. The judges stated, “It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s creative… It as a fine example of how to tell an online story in multiple components.”
Pickoff-White was also one of more than two dozen U.C. Berkeley Journalism students who worked on the Chauncey Bailey Project.
The organizations that took part in the Chauncey Bailey Project were:
- Alameda Times Star
- Bay Area Black Journalists Association
- Center for Investigative Reporting
- Contra Costa Times
- East County Times
- Fremont Argus
- Hayward Daily Review
- Investigative Reporters and Editors
- KGO Radio
- KQED Public Radio
- Maynard Institute
- New America Media
- New Voices in Independent Journalism
- Oakland Tribune
- San Francisco Bay Guardian
- San Jose Mercury News
- San Mateo County Times
- Society of Professional Journalists
- Tri-Valley Herald
- UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
- Valley Times
The Online Journalism Awards were launched in May 2000. They are administered by the Online News Association, in partnership with the University of Miami’s School of Communication.