The TU's $70,000 story

Yesterday the City of Albany agreed to fork over $70,000 to the Times Union after a state appeals court ruled the city had unjustly ignored Freedom of Information Law requests the newspaper filed during an investigation into the “ghost ticket” scandal and that the legal fees incurred by Hearst Newspapers should be reimbursed.

That story, which ran in 2008, outlined a secret ticket system within local government and police unions to issue no-fine parking tickets to vehicles that displayed a special sticker. Documents eventually obtained by the TU gave specifics into the scandal, including names and fine amounts.

From the Times Union article today:

“Eve Burton, vice president and general counsel for the Hearst Corporation has said the newspaper pursued the case, in part, to send a message to the city about its future handling of FOIL requests. “The court, and now the city, after years of fighting have sent a clear message that government officials may not illegally deny requests for public information simply because it is embarrassing,” Burton said Tuesday.”

TU Editor Rex Smith, speaking at a “In-depth Local News: Successes and Challenges” panel at Newhouse School of Public Communication in Syracuse today, said that the money will help fund investigative journalism at the Times Union.