ProPublica, "a non-profit newsroom producing journalism in the public interest" founded by former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger last October, has hired Jake Bernstein as a reporter, according to a press release. Bernstein has been with the Observer since 2002, and before that, he worked at Miami New Times. In the same release, ProPublica announced another AAN-alum hire: Former San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly staff writer A.C. Thompson has also been hired as a reporter.

Continue ReadingTexas Observer Executive Editor Heads to ProPublica

Miami New Times' Isaiah Thompson was awarded a IRE certificate in the local circulation weeklies category for his stories on how residency restrictions forced sex offenders to live under a Miami bridge. In the same category, the AAN-commissioned "Who Killed Brad Will?" was a finalist, along with Peter Byrne's series on Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the North Bay Bohemian and Wayne Barrett's reporting on Rudy Giuliani in the Village Voice. The Texas Observer's reporting on sexual abuse at a state-run youth prison and the cover-up that followed it was also a finalist, in the Magazine/specialty publication category. The Chauncey Bailey Project, which the San Francisco Bay Guardian took part in, was awarded this year's Tom Renner Award, which honors "outstanding reporting covering organized crime or other criminal acts."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Projects Win IRE Awards

As we reported yesterday, the group behind the killing of Oakland Post journalist Chauncey Bailey waged a campaign of intimidation against then-East Bay Express writer Chris Thompson after he wrote a series critical of the group. Thompson, now with the Village Voice, recounts his experience being stalked by the group's followers. They tried to follow him home, so he'd have different colleagues drive him so they wouldn't recognize the cars, he writes. They repeatedly called him with greetings like "Mr. Thompson, I just want to say that your days are numbered," and "You fucked up for the last time, and your time is up." The death threats -- and the lack of response to his complaints by the Oakland Police Department -- forced him out of the Bay Area. "I spent several months out in the countryside of Northern California, reporting and writing my Metro column from an old hunting lodge ... [until] the goons got bored with hunting for me, and I slowly returned to the office full-time. Chauncey Bailey wasn't so lucky, but he fought the good fight against bad men."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Writer On His Run-ins With the Yusef Bey Family

Last week, a 19-year-old follower of the Yusuf Bey family shot and killed Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, who was working on an investigation of the group and its headquarters, Your Black Muslim Bakery. Fortunately, former East Bay Express reporter Chris Thompson's run-in with the group didn't end so grimly. In 2002, the Express published Thompson's investigative series alleging acts of torture, rape, and sodomy perpetrated by the group. After the stories were published, the retaliation began. "Someone smashed up the windows of [the Express'] offices, and Thompson received numerous death threats," according to the Village Voice, where he's currently a staff writer. "Men repeatedly tried to follow Thompson home, or staked out routes he took leaving the office." Express editor Stephen Buel tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the intimidation campaign forced Thompson to work in a different county for months, and shook the paper to the point that "we stopped writing about the group."

Continue ReadingGroup Behind Journalist’s Murder Threatened Alt-Weekly Reporter

But the men aren't hiding from the law. Incredibly, they were ordered to sleep under that bridge by state authorities, New Times' Isaiah Thompson reported last month. Residency restrictions for sex offenders have complicated the task of finding suitable housing for some offenders, especially those who leave prison homeless. "Probation officers just don't know what to do with cases like this," a Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson tells New Times. The alt-weekly's report has kicked up a storm of follow-up coverage, including stories by CNN and the Associated Press. But as New Times Broward-Palm Beach reporter Bob Norman complains on his blog (referring specifically to CNN), it's "too bad they're too arrogant and unprofessional to say whose scoop it is."

Continue ReadingMiami New Times Reveals Sex Offenders Living Under a Bridge

The San Francisco Police Department has admitted that it secretly searched the phone records for calls made from the press room at the city's Hall of Justice, the local NBC affiliate reports. The snooping was first revealed in a Sept. 27 SF Weekly article by A.C. Thompson. "Dealing with a leak problem of its own in 2003, the police department used HP-style tactics, covertly examining the phone records -- reflecting 2,478 phone calls -- of journalists covering the department," Thompson wrote. "By doing so, the SFPD could quickly identify any anonymous tipsters or inside sources within the department who communicated with the reporters." The department spokesperson told SF Weekly that the investigation was legal because the department owned the phone lines that were involved.

Continue ReadingSF Weekly Reveals Cops Checked Reporters’ Phone Records

"When you talk about secrecy and indefinite detention, the problem is bigger than most people realize," SF Weekly Staff Writer A.C. Thompson tells In These Times magazine. Thompson has co-authored a new book, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights, with Trevor Paglen, an expert on clandestine military installations. The pair also discussed the book on the Sept. 15 Democracy Now! program, where Thompson told interviewer Amy Goodman, "I've written about police abuse in America for many years and about people being abused in American prisons. But the sort of similarity of the stories we heard from prisoners [in CIA facilities], the intensity of them, it kind of took us aback a little bit, and it was pretty gripping."

Continue ReadingSF Weekly Writer Exposes CIA ‘Torture Taxi’ in New Book

Adam Clay Thompson has won the 2005 George Polk Award for Local Reporting, Editor & Publisher reports. Thompson, a senior writer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, won for his series "Forgotten City," which exposed poor living conditions in San Francisco's public housing. The Polk Awards have been awarded by Long Island University since 1949.

Continue ReadingBay Guardian Writer Wins George Polk Award

Last Wednesday, Chris Thompson reported that American soldiers have been trading gruesome photographs of dead and mutilated Iraqis in return for free access to an amateur porn site. Thompson wrote, "(I)n the weeks since the European press uncovered the story and in the week since the site was first noticed by Eric Muller, law professor and author of the blog, not a single US daily newspaper had covered it." That silence ended yesterday when the Army announced that it has launched an investigation of the matter.

Continue ReadingEast Bay Express First U.S. Paper to Cover Army-Photo Scandal