Another reporter’s name was added to the Fallen Journalists Memorial Wall in CSUN’s Manzanita Hall on Thursday.
Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the African-American Bay Area weekly, the Oakland Post, was the latest journalist to be assassinated in the U.S. since 1993 and the 22nd journalist to be honored on the wall.
Bailey, 57, was shot to death on August 2 in broad daylight in downtown Oakland, Calif. as he walked to work.
Authorities say they believe Bailey was targeted because of a story he was investigating at the time of his death. Fellow journalists felt pain and anger at the death of a colleague who was simply fulfilling his duty as a mouthpiece for truth.
Veteran reporter Bob Butler said, “We have to send a message,” in a speech he gave at the memorial service. Butler is president of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association and commuted to Los Angeles at his own expense to attend the event.
“You can’t kill the message by killing the messenger,” Butler said.
After Bailey’s death, concerned journalists decided to take action to prevent his legacy from ending in vain. They wanted to investigate what ultimately caused his death.
Bay Area journalists and journalism students came together to continue Bailey’s work and further investigate the family-owned bakery at the center of his assassination. Thus, the Chauncey Bailey Project was organized a week after Bailey’s death, Butler said.
Butler emphasized the importance of asking tough questions to receive honest answers and give insight into issues that are often clouded by those who want the truth to stay hidden.
Gayle Pollard-Terry, former Los Angeles Times reporter and past president of the Black Journalists Association of Southern California, said, “Journalists shine the light.” Pollard-Terry emphasized the responsibility journalists have in influencing society and how that responsibility often leads them into peril.
With every name on the Fallen Journalist Memorial Wall comes a story of heroism, disregard for personal safety and an insatiable quest for the truth that often leads these truth-seekers to the most dangerous places in the world.
From Mark Fineman, who died of a heart attack while covering the war in Iraq, to Bob Brown, Don Harris and Greg Robinson, who were gunned down in Guyana while covering Jonestown, Jim Jones’ religious sect. These professionals put their lives on the line to do their jobs.
With journalists being murdered in Iraq, Russia, Columbia and almost all other theatres of conflict and human drama, another serious dilemma arises. The public will not get the critical stories that evoke action and lead to change.
Most news coming out of Iraq is coming from journalists who are “embedded” with military units who limit what they see, and thus, what they report.
After the speakers finished their speeches and the hall emptied of all members of the Department of Journalism at CSUN, Bob Butler stayed to answer questions asked by a group of reporters who attentively jotted down notes as he spoke.
“You guys are the next generation,” Butler said as he reinforced what the reporter said he believed was the importance of the event.
Ana Cubias, a CSUN journalism student who’s originally from El Salvador, said she was more aware of what her profession would demand after listening to Butler speak.
Cubias said she’d cover stories in El Salvador if the opportunity presented itself, even with the potential risks associated with being a journalist.