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Clifford Levy is the glue behind the New York Times’ digital transformation

Levy is No. 76 on the Recode 100.

There’s a good chance you read the New York Times (kudos, by the way), which means you’re probably scrolling through its website, or thumbing through its app, or following its Twitter feed (along with some NYT reporters), or dropping a comment, or digesting a dozen newsletters, or buying a gift off a newly expanded Wirecutter, or baking a dish from NYT Cooking, or streaming a show recommended by NYT Watching, or generally cursing/praising its homepage redesign.

You can thank Clifford Levy for much of that.

Of course, a lot of people at the Times are responsible for this sweeping transformation. But the Times is also a place of deep habits that go back a century and a half. That meant the publisher — more than almost any another institution — required an honest broker, a journalist-merchant who could reliably represent both sides of the deal as it turned to digital publishing.

That’s Levy. As the paper’s deputy managing editor overseeing digital platforms, he’s become the unseen glue behind the newsroom’s digital initiatives. He’s tied the publisher’s customs to the edge of online publishing, employing his sharp eye for digital mechanics and reader habits. And while the Times now has plenty of smart, digital folks, including those from the fifth-generation Ochs-Sulzberger clan that controls the paper, Levy represents the storied newsroom’s ambitions in a way that only a three-decade veteran, two-time Pulitzer winner can.

“Right now it's really a process of figuring out what I like to refer to as almost a radical evolution of the newsroom at the New York Times,” Levy told Recode last year. But it also comes down to the Times’ deep ethic for unmatched reporting, adding, “We want to figure out how to change as fast as that landscape is changing, while, as I said, doing it in a way that is rooted in our core values, and for us that means great journalism.” (See No. 3, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey; No. 23, Maggie Haberman; and No. 67, Michael Barbaro on this list.)

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