Jay Gallagher, 63, who covered New York state government for Gannett newspapers for 25 years, died Monday at an Albany hospital of pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Gallagher was known for asking the basic but hard questions that New Yorkers needed answered. Several governors at news conferences called to announce expensive pet projects braced themselves when Mr. Gallagher rose to ask, "How are you going to pay for this?"

Hours before his death, he was editing his obituary, looking not for praise but to ensure his driving goals of accuracy and fairness.

He worked at the Rochester Times-Union from 1974 to 1984 before heading to Gannett's Albany bureau. He became bureau chief in 1989. He took two years off to write a book about Albany's government, The Politics of Decline.

"He showed up to work every day ready to tackle the job, not cynical, not beaten down," said Yancey Roy, a state government spokesman who worked for Mr. Gallagher for 11 years. "He believed so much in the public service of journalism." - AP