Deirdre Sykes O’Neil, a respected journalist who rose from copy editor to executive editor of during nearly 30 years at The (Bergen) Record, died on December 29 after a long battle with cancer. She was 68.
Sykes replaced Martin Gottlieb as the executive editor in 2016 and shepherded the newsroom through the July 2016 sale of the newspaper from the Borg family to Gannett.
She began her career in journalism in the late 1970s, working for The Suburbanite, a group of weekly newspaper based in Bergen County. She joined the Bergen Record in 1987, working the overnight shift.
In 1988, Sykes became the local news editor for Passaic and Morris counties, and the state assignment editor in 1993. A series on the heroin epidemic in New Jersey earned her a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2013.
Her tenure at Gannett was short. In the fall of 2016, the newspaper chain brought in Nancy Meyer and Richard Green, two newspaper executives from out of state, to run The Record.
Her grandfather, John Walters, served as mayor of Harrington Park in the 1940s.