Reporters Finish Slain Colleague's Work

Reporters and editors working on the Chauncey Bailey Project
Reporters and editors working on the Chauncey Bailey Project. The Project brought together journalists from competing organizations to finish the work of the Oakland editor who was killed in 2007. The reporters also uncovered information that helped indict Bailey's accused killer.

On Wednesday in Alameda County, Calif., two men are expected to be arraigned for ordering the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey.

The Oakland editor was gunned down walking to work in 2007. Despite an early arrest, the case was cold until a group of reporters banded together to conduct their own investigation, as CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

When Bailey was gunned down in Oakland nearly two years ago his killing shook up his city -
and his profession.

Bailey, editor of the weekly Oakland Post, was investigating the finances of a black Muslim splinter group allegedly using a local bakery as a front for criminal activities, when he was shot.

"You can't let that go unanswered," said Bob Butler, a reporter on the Chauncey Bailey Project. "Because what happens to the next reporter who's investigating a story that someone doesn't want him to report?"

But at a time when newsrooms and news budgets are shrinking some feared Chauncey Bailey's work might go unfinished. So with some foundation support, two dozen news organizations agreed somewhat reluctantly to collaborate.

"Collaboration was something you shied away from really," said Robert Rosenthal, editor of the Chauncey Bailey Project. "Because it was get the story, get it first and scoop somebody."

The reporters who joined forces on the Chauncey Bailey Project admit putting aside competition wasn't always easy.

"And if you have secret sources? Are you gonna share them with all the people in this room?" asked Mary Fricker, sitting with fellow Chauncey Bailey Project reporters. "Well, yeah. But that was hard."

"There have been a few chairs thrown," said Robert Peele, another reporter on the project.

Their work was low budget. Two of the three lead reporters didn't have jobs - Butler had been off from radio work and Fricker was retired. But on story after story, they pressed the police investigation.

Their reporting revealed links between the lead detective on the case and the black Muslim group's leader, Yusuf Bey. Last month the detective was suspended.

But the big breakthrough came when reporters obtained a secretly recorded jailhouse video of Bey, and found something detectives had missed. They heard Bey whispering he had the gun used to kill Bailey.

"The gun that was used was in my closet," he whispers in the video.

That admission became headline news.

"It gets the message out. And it sends the message: that investigative reporting is still alive," said Martin Reynolds, editor of the Oakland Tribune.

Finally, nearly two years after the killing, Bey has been indicted for Chauncey Bailey's murder. For the reporters getting results became more important than getting scoops - a team effort that would have made the slain journalist proud.