Baquet joined The Times in 2000 after serving as national editor of The New York Times since 1995. He joined The New York Times in 1990 as an investigative reporter, focusing on local and Washington, D.C. investigations. During that period, Baquet was a finalist, with another reporter, for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series of stories about poor care in New York City's public hospitals.
Prior to joining The New York Times, Baquet reported for the Chicago Tribune from 1984 to 1990, and before that for The States-Item and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans for nearly seven years. While at the Chicago Tribune, Baquet served as associate metropolitan editor for investigations and was chief investigative reporter. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1988 as one of a team of three reporters documenting corruption in the Chicago City Council.
Baquet attended Columbia University where he majored in English.