U.S. editor gunned down in Oakland

New York, August 2, 2007—U.S. journalist Chauncey Bailey was shot to death this morning on a street in downtown Oakland. The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed alarm and called on local authorities today to conduct a prompt and vigorous investigation into his murder.

Around 7:30 a.m., an unidentified assailant dressed in black clothes approached Bailey, editor of the weekly paper Oakland Post, while he was on his way to work, according to press reports and CPJ interviews. The gunman shot Bailey multiple times at close range before fleeing on foot, Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren told CPJ. Bailey was pronounced dead at the scene.

Holmgren told CPJ that investigators believe Bailey’s shooting was not a random act. “He was apparently targeted,” Holmgren said. Investigators have not established a motive but are looking at Bailey’s journalism as a possibility, he said. John Bowens, advertising director at the Oakland Post, said that colleagues at the paper “had no idea what the motive could be,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Bailey, 58, a veteran television and print journalist in California’s Bay Area, had covered a variety of issues including city politics and crime, Holmgren said. He had been named editor of the Oakland Post in June. Bailey was an assertive reporter who was respected by his peers, the police spokesman said. Bailey had previously worked as a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, covering African American issues, according to press reports.

“We are deeply troubled by the murder of Chauncey Bailey and we urge the local authorities to conduct a complete and vigorous investigation into his death,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The killing of journalists in the U.S. is rare and is certainly alarming.”
CPJ will continue to investigate all possible links between Bailey’s slaying and his journalistic work.

Few journalists haven been killed in the line of duty in the United States in recent years, CPJ research shows. In 2001, freelance photographer William Biggart was killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and Robert Stevens, a photo editor at The Sun, died of inhalation anthrax in Boca Raton, Fla.

The last targeted assassination of a journalist occurred in 1993 when radio reporter Dona St. Plite, a Miami radio reporter of Haitian descent, was gunned down at a benefit. The period from 1976 to 1993 saw a total of 12 journalist killings. A CPJ report issued that year, Silenced: The Unsolved Murders of Immigrant Journalists in the United States, found that in all but one case, the victims were immigrant journalists working in languages other than English. Most received little or no national media attention.