Four reporters associated with the Chauncey Bailey Project will be honored by UGA for journalistic courage. Thomas Peele, Josh Richman, Mary Fricker and Bob Butler will receive the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage March 24 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“Peele, Richman, Fricker and Butler’s reporting was truly courageous,” wrote Oakland Tribune editor Martin G. Reynolds in his nomination. “A reporter was killed and they continued and expanded his work despite obvious dangers.”
The reporter was Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, who was murdered in 2007 while investigating black Muslims and their Your Black Muslim Bakery, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. The man charged with Bailey’s killing told a court he was ordered by the group’s leader to murder Bailey “to stop this story.” The four reporters wrote more than 100 stories about the group, the murder and the police investigation. Reynolds wrote, “Their reportage forced the indictment of the group’s leader on murder changes for ordering the assassination.”
Peele and Richman are reporters for The Oakland Tribune/Bay Area News Group. Peele is an investigative reporter whose work focuses on government malfeasance and corruption. A 25-year veteran of newspapers on both coasts, Peele has won four national reporting awards. Richman covers state and federal politics. He reported for the Express-Times in Easton, Pa., for five years before joining the Oakland Tribune in 1997. Fricker and Butler are independent reporters. Fricker retired in 2006 from the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., where she covered business. She is the author of the New York Times best selling book Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans.
Butler’s career in broadcast journalism began in 1981 when he was hired by KCBS in San Francisco. He has reported about economics, politics and disasters throughout the U.S. and from Brazil, Europe, Namibia, Tanzania and Senegal.
Richman said he didn’t think their work amounted to journalistic courage.
“We simply did what we had to do after a friend and colleague was slain for his work,” he said. “If a story dies along with the journalist, the journalist died in vain; letting that happen was never an option.”