Now through Dec. 31, your tax-deductible donation of up to $1,000 to The Frontier will be doubled through the Newsmatch program. Launched by the Knight Foundation in 2016, NewsMatch is funding more than $3 million in matching funds with the support of a diverse group of donors including Democracy Fund and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
The Frontier is dedicated to independent, uncompromising journalism that shines a light on issues Oklahomans care about. We’re profiling a different Frontier staff member each week through the end of the year in conjunction with our NewsMatch campaign.
Name and title: Brianna Bailey, senior reporter
Favorite book: Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion. It’s no so much my favorite book as one I hold in high regard. The writing is so good and it’s just emotionally devastating.
Favorite movie: Harold and Maude. I love the Cat Stevens soundtrack.
Favorite food: Anything chocolate
Tell us about yourself and how you came to join The Frontier.
I grew up in Idaho and got into journalism after my high school English teacher suggested I join the school newspaper. I met other weird, funny kids who liked to read and were passionate about words. It felt like finding my tribe after being lost my entire life in the wilderness.
Being a reporter is all I ever wanted to do after that. I’m not really qualified to do anything else. If The Frontier doesn’t work out for me, I’ll probably have to become an Uber driver.
I worked as a reporter at a small newspaper in Southern California for a few years, where I wrote about things like celebrity DUIs, sea lions and yacht clubs.
Once, Snoop Dogg got arrested trying to bring a police nightstick through airport security there and I got assigned to cover his court appearance. TMZ and the paparazzi were there. This was exciting stuff for a girl from Idaho.
I eventually landed at The Oklahoman, first as a business reporter, and later as part of its Watchdog team. I once wrote a story about a vodka distillery that exploded in a huge fireball and engulfed the entire room — while I was there interviewing the owner.
I walked across Oklahoma City twice, once 27 miles, north-to south via Western Avenue, and again east-to west, tracing the route of the old U.S. Route 66. I wrote about the people I met and what I learned from them.
Being a reporter is the best job.
In December, 2017, I quit my job at The Oklahoman to join The Frontier. Traditional newsrooms are being forced to cut back their coverage and I wanted to help grow nonprofit journalism in Oklahoma.
What’s your favorite thing about being part of The Frontier team?
I work with a small group of talented people who are passionate about their jobs. I genuinely like them. I like the creative freedom The Frontier gives me. It’s also one of my favorite things that The Frontier once published a series about the death of Eric Harris and the downfall of Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz called The Shit Sandwich.
What’s your favorite story The Frontier has published or that you’ve written?
I wrote about a guy known as the Meat Man who died in prison after being sentenced to 40 years for stealing $52 worth of meat. I think some other news outlets would struggle to see the news value in such a story, but I felt the Meat Man’s life said something important about our criminal justice system. The Frontier gave me the freedom to explore that.
I also enjoyed writing about how some of Oklahoma’s largest oil and gas companies likely won’t have to pay income taxes for years after the price of oil fell. I was really surprised by the reaction the story got. I tried to report and write it in a way that was straightforward and fair. I had readers who reacted by getting mad at the oil and gas companies and others who were angry at me for writing the story at all.
Why is nonprofit news important in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma needs more in-depth reporting on state government, education and the criminal justice system. Newspapers have been cutting staff and reducing their coverage for the past decade. There are some towns in Oklahoma that don’t even have a local newspaper anymore.
The Frontier needs your support to continue to tell stories that would never otherwise see the light of day in Oklahoma.
If you’ve already donated to The Frontier, thank you for believing in us.
Your financial support for our investigative journalism is now tax deductible. To become a Friend of The Frontier, click here.