♦ I edit narrative and investigative projects at The New York Times. Previously I was a wayfaring writer and photographer for The Wall Street Journal, covering South Asia. Before that I was a WSJ Page One editor working on narratives and interactives such as this one. I edited this project on the end of privacy, a Pulitzer finalist.
Some people call it “long form” but there’s a better word. Storytelling.
♦ I’ve lived and worked as a journalist in New York, New Delhi, Hong Kong and small-town America, where my family published a century-old newspaper.
♦ Please visit Starve Hollow Road for more photography as well as occasional essays on subjects such as a reader’s touching letter, a coal-powered iron, being buried alive and the place where I grew up.
♦ I’ve written about:
A candy shop that’s a burn clinic (with photo essay), a bus tragedy (with this interactive), a young woman set on fire (with photo essay) and her family’s dark history, controversial cattle activists (with video), nuclear plants in tsunami zones (with video), a double hanging in a mango tree (photo essay), Nepal’s terrible earthquake (photo essay), this surreal drill team, India’s accidentally groovy wristwatches, a wicker basket for abandoning babies, one-horsepower taxis (with video), the child-goddesses of the Kathmandu valley (with video) and the men who live under a bridge, by a sacred river, and dive for coins. The world’s fastest ocean liner (with this video). An unusual parade in the American midwest. The slaughter of Nepal’s god-king and the bizarre rumor mill that followed his death. Great Britain’s unhappy mercenaries.
♦ As an editor at the NYT and WSJ I’ve worked with brilliant reporters on coverage of:
The veracity of Truman Capote’s masterwork “In Cold Blood.” The rise of cage fighting. This Silicon Valley juice evangelist. A man who got a federal criminal record because of a clogged toilet. Our emerging velvet rope economy. San Francisco’s housing anarchists. A woman’s six-year descent into all-but-incurable tuberculosis. Vietnam’s bride kidnappers. America’s housing crisis. Stretch limos that are too long. Midwives who murder babies. FBI informants who snitch on their girlfriends. Getting naked in Vermont.
♦ As a WSJ Page One editor I worked on many of the paper’s most ambitious projects. I edited “The Lobotomy Files” and helped to conceive its interactive design. I edited this years-long project on the end of privacy, a Pulitzer finalist, as well as lots of “A-heds.”
In 2013 I edited portraits of the young woman who was raped and then murdered on a bus in New Delhi, and her best friend. These accounts of their forbidden affection shed light on a few things, and let’s leave it at that. I encourage you to read them.
♦ In the early 2000s I was the WSJ correspondent in New Delhi. I wrote about the September 11, 2001, terror attacks from Islamabad, Pakistan.
♦ Photography by me has shown up in The Wall Street Journal (for example here, here, here, here and here), Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, dearly departed Newsweek and other publications. My photos have been exhibited at the Exit Art gallery, New York; Photographic Gallery, Front St., New York; Chrystie Street Gallery, Chrystie St., New York; ABC No Rio, Rivington St., New York; the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts; and the Edward Hopper House, Nyack, N.Y.
♦ For all your Jesse Pesta news, there’s always Twitter @jessepesta. Until then:
♦ February 2016: I now have two jobs, temporarily: I’ve been named acting editor of the NYT’s Sunday Business section and will be doing this on top of my regular job until a permanent editor is named.
♦ January 2016: Delighted to be an adviser again to master’s students at Columbia University’s graduate program for investigative journalism, the Stabile Center. The last time was a few years ago but then the roving reporter job intervened.
♦ Oct. 7, 2015: Here’s my first NYT byline, a news-breaking piece on the S.S. United States.
♦ Sept. 21, 2015: I’ve joined The New York Times as an enterprise and project editor.
♦ April-June 2014: “The Lobotomy Files” is honored by the National Press Club and receives the 2014 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. This is the second project I’ve edited to receive Ancil Payne honors: In 2010 (see below) Farnaz Fassihi’s outstanding reporting on Iran, “Hearts, Minds and Blood,” was recognized.
Describing “The Lobotomy Files,” the judges said: “We are particularly impressed with the ethical consciousness” behind the determination to do the story right, “for the man who was still alive.”
♦ February 2014: After six years as a Page One editor, I returned to reporting for the WSJ as a traveling writer focused on South Asia.
♦ Oct. 15, 2013: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists honors the Journal’s reporting on tuberculosis with the Daniel Pearl prize, its highest award.
♦ May-July 2013: The Journal’s privacy project, “Watched,” is honored with the APME’s First Amendment reporting citation and receives the Deadline Club’s Public Service Award. The Journal’s tuberculosis investigation takes the Deadline Club’s science award, too.
Describing the TB project, the judges said: “The series has the potential to save many lives around the world ~ possibly our own.”
♦ April 16, 2012: “The End of Privacy,” The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the erosion of privacy in the U.S., is named a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in explanatory reporting.
Here's a video clip of the investigative writers Gary Fields and John Emshwiller sharing a nice word about their editors.
♦ June 3-Aug. 5, 2011: Selected photos on exhibit at the Exit Art gallery in New York as part of the gallery’s Contemporary Slavery exhibition.
♦ March 26, 2011: Represented The Wall Street Journal in a presentation at Yale Law School to discuss personal privacy and the online advertising business.
♦ Sept. 25, 2010: I spoke about working with Danny Pearl at Music for Humanity, a concert commemorating Danny’s life.
Here’s a video of the remarks. The talking starts about a minute in.
♦ April/May, 2010: The WSJ’s Iran coverage, “Hearts, Minds and Blood,” wins two prizes for foreign correspondence, from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Overseas Press Club, as well as the Robert F. Kennedy award and the Payne Award for Ethics.
♦ April 8, 2010: Represented the WSJ on a Nieman Foundation panel on fairness in writing.
Jesse @ JessePesta ♦ com
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The main portrait is the work of the incomparable Jennifer MacFarlane