After the attacks of September 11, the public turned to newspapers in a fever reliable information on a situation that was changing by the hour. At The New York Times, Joe Sexton, deputy metropolitan editor, distinguished himself by overseeing much of the paper’s acclaimed local investigative and enterprise efforts. In the early days, when estimates of casualties ran as high as 7,000, Sexton edited a series of sensitive reports that showed that while there had been terrible loss of life, the city totals were too high by several factors. Sexton also oversaw detailed reports on the investigation into why the towers collapsed, including the first stories that reported the inquiry was being thwarted by the quick sale for scrap of key structural pieces. And before he edited a major piece on firefighters’ difficulties with communications, equipment and organization on September 11, he personally read thousands of pages of Fire Department oral histories.
A Brooklyn native, resident of Park Slope and father of two daughters, Jane and Lucy, Sexton went to Xavier High School, the University of Wisconsin, and spent a year at the School of Irish Studies in Ballsbridge, Dublin, where the teachers included Eavan Boland and Seamus Deane. The Sextons are from Limerick. On his mother’s side, his great-uncle Lefty Sullivan pitched for the Chicago Black Sox; on his father’s side is a mayor, long-ago of Limerick. Until recently, his family owned a 15th century Norman castle outside Corofin, Co. Clare.
Sexton, 42, began his career at the Times as a sportswriter, then worked as a reporter on the metropolitan desk before becoming an editor. ♦