Revisiting DNAinfo's top stories and scoops on New York politics
From its launch in 2009 to its controversial closure earlier this month, DNAinfo made a name for itself with its hyperlocal coverage of neighborhoods all across New York City, from Brooklyn to Long Island City to Rikers Island.
The website also established itself with its coverage of city politics, with reporters like Jill Colvin, Murray Weiss, James Fanelli and Jeff Mays holding City Hall accountable and getting big scoops.
In recognition of its strong journalism, here’s a recap of some of DNAinfo’s best political stories over the years.
- Weiss, a veteran reporter, broke a number of major stories on the NYPD, including a series on the widespread practice of ticket-fixing. He reported in April 2011 that internal investigators and prosecutors were secretly taping police officers as part of a major probe into ticket fixing, with follow-up stories on how widespread the problem was, details of some of the secretly recorded tapes that Weiss listened to, and allegations of leaks by police officials involved in the probe.
- DNAinfo reporters also dug into the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies. Weiss reported in 2012 that a rise in the practice had “little impact on the number of people shot in New York City or on gun violence in general during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.” Another analysis by Jill Colvin and Paul Davis found that police officers stopped more people at the Port Authority Bus Terminal than any other location.
- The website’s coverage of the nonprofit sector also exposed questionable behavior. One 2013 piece found that Gay Men’s Health Crisis was spending just spending a fraction of its funds on helping HIV-positive New Yorkers, and another DNAinfo report unearthed allegations that a National Arts Club president used the organization as “his personal piggy-bank,” which was ultimately resolved by a $900,000 settlement.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came into office with a rocky relationship with the police unions. It didn’t help the mayor when DNAinfo’s James Fanelli posted his 2014 exclusive on a senior de Blasio aide’s romantic relationship with “a convicted killer and interstate drug trafficker whose most recent run-in with the law happened late last year” – who also called cops “pigs.” De Blasio defended the aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, but, in the face of more negative press, she ultimately was forced to take a leave and did not return to the administration.
- As investigations into alleged pay-to-play behavior by the de Blasio administration threatened the mayor’s re-election bid, DNAinfo reported that real estate developer Don Peebles said he had received a call from de Blasio requesting $20,000 for a nonprofit promoting his prekindergarten push, even though Peebles had business before the city. The website also reported on former de Blasio advisers who were allowed to bypass a one-year ban on joining the same mayoral nonprofit, Campaign for One New York.