I do storytelling at The New York Times. Currently I’m deputy editor in the climate and environment group ~ in other words, the planet beat. Previously I edited narrative and investigative projects for the Times’s business section such as this one, Addiction Inc., on the lucrative business of treating America’s addicts. I edited the Times’s Sunday Business section as well, where I encouraged creative narrative reportage.

Before that I was a wayfaring writer and photographer focused on South Asia. And before that I was a Page One editor at the Wall Street Journal working on narratives such as this extraordinary project on America’s forgotten lobotomized soldiers. I edited a brilliant team covering the end of privacy; our work was recognized as a Pulitzer finalist.

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.

Nice things have been said by nice people from Boingboing, Human Rights Watch, the Annals of Improbable Research, the Museum of Modern Art and even planet Twitter.

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.

The Dalai Lama hands out one of my stories, sometimes.


Before joining the NYT's climate/environment team as deputy in January 2018, I edited investigative and storytelling business projects for the Times. Sometimes I write for the paper (and for myself).

I’ve worked on some of the paper’s most ambitious business reporting projects in recent years including “Bottom Line Nation,” “Uncertain Harvest,” “Education Disrupted” and “Addiction Inc.,” which was published as a special four-story, 16-page section ~ a first for the Times.

Before joining the Times I was a roving correspondent focused on South Asia for The Wall Street Journal. So here’s a piece on Himalayan traffic jams. And one on Cambodia’s handmade bamboo trains (with a video). Before that I was an editor on the WSJ’s Page One desk, working on investigative and narrative projects.

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. Aggressive investors who destroyed ambulance companies. A woman’s six-year descent into all-but-incurable tuberculosis. Vietnam’s bride kidnappers. Stretch limos that are too long. Midwives who murder babies. FBI informants who snitch on their girlfriends. Getting naked in Vermont.

In the early 2000s I was the WSJ correspondent in New Delhi. I wrote about the September 11, 2001, terror attacks from Islamabad, Pakistan.


An online gallery can be seen at Starve Hollow Road, which is named for the place where I grew up.

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:

March 2018: Judged the Overseas Press Club’s Morton Frank award for magazine writing, this year at the invitation of the brilliant editor Michael Williams.

January 2018: After more than two years editing business-reporting projects and investigations, as well as the Sunday Business section, I’m thrilled to be joining the NYT’s climate and environment team as deputy editor. There’s no bigger story.

December 2017: A storytelling project I led, Addiction Inc., was published as a special 16-page, four-story section. It’s first time the Times has published a multi-part project as a standalone section.

February 2017: Helped judge the Overseas Press Club’s Morton Frank award for magazine writing, led by the wonderful Farnaz Fassihi.

July 2016: A piece I wrote with Preetika Rana, “The Dangerous Meeting of Women and Fire,” won the the South Asian Journalists Association’s top prize for enterprise reporting.

“The Dangerous Meeting of Women and Fire” also received honorable mention for feature writing from the Society for Features Journalism ~ a particular honor considering the winner in the category was the AP’s slavery project, which of course won the Pulitzer.

July 2016: The interactive project “Death on India’s Route 66” I wrote and reported with Krishna Pokharel and Preetika Rana was awarded the Clarion prize for feature writing. Here’s the interactive part of the project, where we profile everyone on the bus that fateful night.

January 2016: Delighted to be an adviser again to master’s students at Columbia University’s graduate program for investigative journalism, the Stabile Center.

Oct. 7, 2015: Here’s my first NYT byline, a news-breaking piece on the S.S. United States.

Update: Against all odds, the ship might actually sail again.

Sept. 21, 2015: I’ve joined The New York Times as an enterprise and project editor.

January 2015: Xeni Jardin at Boingboing kind of digs the lede on this piece about a surreal yet badass motorcycle stunt team.

September 2014: The Dalai Lama pulls out a copy of this thing that I wrote.

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.

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.

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.

Aug. 12, 1994: My first “A-hed,” about an interesting parade, hits the Journal’s front page.


Jesse @ JessePesta com


Jesse Pesta

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The main portrait is the work of the wonderful Jennifer MacFarlane