Many of us have worked with Len Levin on a Bio Project assignment or a book contribution. Many have enjoyed his terrific twice-annual meetings of the Nap LaJoie (RI) Chapter, gatherings conducted with alacrity, grace and engagement.
The Rhode Island Press Association inducted Len into their HOF this month. Here is the write up from the RIPA site:
Len Levin is probably best known in Rhode Island and the rest of New England journalism as a wizard of grammar and style. For close to 30 years, he served as the Providence Journal’s news editor, overseeing the copy desk and serving as the language guru for the news department. His crusade for good grammar, correct style, and accuracy earned him the soubriquet Chairman Mao or just The Chairman. For years, he compiled the monthly “Excellence Newsletter,” which complimented by name as often as it zinged the work of the reporters and copyeditors (without naming them). When he retired in 1996, staffers said they greatly missed his newsletter. He also co-authored (and then enforced) the several-hundred-page Journal stylebook. Any number of copyeditors who worked under Len’s tutelage went on to become copyeditors at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and other metropolitan daily newspapers.
He also left his mark on New England journalism through his service on various boards. He was the president of the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. In retirement he continued to serve on the NESNE board. For many years, he taught journalism courses part time at the University of Rhode Island, including copy editing and news writing. When he took a buyout from the Journal in 1999, he was asked by the Quincy Patriot Ledger to be one of its editors, but he demurred and instead joined the copydesk part time. After leaving the Patriot Ledger he took on another part-time job: editing the decisions of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
A native of Pawtucket, R.I., Len graduated from Providence College, where he was the co-editor of the school’s weekly student newspaper, The Cowl. He received a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and went to work at the Pawtucket Times until the Providence Journal asked him to join its copyediting staff in 1963. During his years at the Journal, he and his wife, Linda Lotridge Levin, a journalism professor at URI, developed pro bono seminars and workshops in editing and writing for newspaper staffs around New England. He was a frequent presenter at panels and seminars for copyeditors, preaching the need for accuracy and good grammar. As a member of NESNE, he traveled to Russia twice to explain a free press to journalists there. Passionate about the history of baseball, he is a former secretary of the Society for American Baseball Research and for many years was the group’s archivist, the files piled high in rooms on the third floor of the Levin residence in Providence. He and Linda have two daughters, Sara and Rachel.
Inducted into the R.I. Journalism Hall of Fame April 2016