The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard presented its Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism posthumously to Chauncey Bailey this past Tuesday (May 6). The editor of the Oakland Post in Oakland, Calif., Bailey was murdered last August while investigating a bakery suspected of being a front for a criminal organization. Police arrested a bakery employee, who allegedly killed Bailey to keep him from publishing an article about financial and other abuses within the company.
The Nieman Class of 2008 chose Bailey for the award in recognition of his “fearless pursuit of the truth” and his work as a vocal advocate for the black community. They noted that Bailey’s life’s work and murder inspired other journalists and news organizations to continue his investigation.
“Chauncey was a courageous editor whose passion for watchdog journalism in the interest of serving his community is a powerful model for local newspapers,” added Nieman Curator Bob Giles.
The Lyons Award carries a prize of $1,000. Finalists for the 2008 Lyons Award included journalist MGG Pillai, who fought for independent journalism in Malaysia; Juan Pablo Cardenas of Chile, who was jailed for opposing Augusto Pinochet’s government; and BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who reported from Gaza for almost three years before being taken hostage there last year.
Susan Chira, foreign editor for The New York Times, delivered the evening’s keynote address. Chira has served in a variety of positions at the Times, including editorial director of book development and editor of the Week in Review. She is the author of “A Mother’s Place: Rewriting the Rules of Motherhood.”
Conway Jones Jr. accepted the award on behalf of Bailey. A businessman and arts patron from Oakland, Jones retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1993 with 30 years of combined active and reserve duty.
The Nieman Class of 1964 established the Lyons Award in honor of the Nieman Foundation curator who retired that year after leading the institution for a quarter of a century. The award honors displays of conscience and integrity by individuals, groups or institutions in communications.