Carolyn Ryan, assistant managing editor at the New York Times and former metro editor at the Boston Globe, has spent most of her professional life leading newsrooms.

Her current office is dozens of stories up a Manhattan skyscraper, designed in the aftermath of 9/11 by architect Renzo Piano to emphasize transparency.

“I have to tell you, I’m very happy to be in a newsroom,” Ms. Ryan told a sold-out crowd at the Gazette’s first Tuesdays In the Newsroom event of the fall, a monthly off-season speaker series hosted by the newspaper (held this month on a Wednesday because of scheduling conflicts.)

“Our newsroom is slightly different,” Ms. Ryan said to laughter. “Everything is glass.”

In a wide-ranging discussion on Wednesday, Ms. Ryan provided her own window — and often candid transparency — into the world of the New York Times and its coverage of the country’s largely unprecedented political landscape. As an editor at the Times, Ms. Ryan oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election. And while she pushed back against hardened criticisms of the newspaper’s coverage of that election cycle, she said there were important lessons to be learned for 2020, including less reliance on pollsters and more grass roots reporting through less-heavily trod parts of the country.

The event was part of the Tuesdays in the Newsroom series, held monthly in the off-season. — Jeanna Shepard

According to Ms. Ryan, the Times has devoted 30 full-time reporters to the 2020 election, and that doesn’t include the myriad staff working in multimedia, production and data analytics. She also said the Times brought back some of its seasoned foreign correspondents to cover their own country. Hindsight is 2020. Literally.

“The presidential campaign is the biggest story we cover,” Ms. Ryan said. “We need to make sure we are in places where we are collecting voter sentiment. We’re not going to walk away from polls entirely, but I think campaigns are not just about the candidates. They are about the country. And I think what we are doing resource-wise is pouring more into those key states.”

Looking back on the 2016 election, Ms. Ryan discussed working with two drastically different candidates, and how key differences between their personalities led to differences in coverage. While Hillary Clinton shied from personal press attention, Donald Trump basked in it, calling even the lowliest Times staffers in an attempt to shift storylines and influence his narrative. While Mrs. Clinton often deferred to campaign advisers, Mr. Trump was, surprisingly, open and willing to work with the media. Mrs. Clinton struggled to tell her own story, Ms. Ryan said. Mr. Trump lived to tell his.

Despite those differences, it was still a surprise for her, and the Times newsroom, when it became clear on election night that Mr. Trump would prevail.

“I remember that night,” Ms. Ryan said. “I got a call from the Clinton reporter who covered the whole race. And she was down at the Javits Center, which was supposed to be where the celebration was happening. And she said, I think there’s something wrong. And I said, why? And she said, well, even the people on the Clinton campaign who don’t smoke are outside smoking.”

Now, with the Iowa primary caucus just over 100 days away, Ms. Ryan described the difficulty in covering a lightning-paced, 20-candidate Democratic primary. Questions like how to balance coverage of one candidate versus another, where to focus the fleet of reporters, how to read the polls and what goes on the front page are daily discussions with which those on the Times masthead, including Ms. Ryan, wrestle — especially in a digital era in which the front page also means a constantly updating website and mobile app.

Oh, and lest anyone forget — there’s also a president facing an impeachment inquiry.

“It’s a really high-pressure job, because any story that you do, you hear from the left, you hear from the right, and you hear from the center,” Ms. Ryan said. “It’s like being a junior high basketball coach. Everyone thinks they can do the job better.”

Although Ms. Ryan is not heading the paper’s coverage of the 2020 election, she helped organize the debate the New York Times co-hosted with CNN last week. And when pressed about the 2020 candidates, she provided journalistic observations rather than punditry, presenting each one as they currently stood. While Elizabeth Warren surges, showing the sort of steady polling and donor growth that field analysts adore, Joe Biden fades. Ms. Ryan said the Biden campaign has lowered expectations for the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

But where other candidates like Pete Buttigieg struggle, Mr. Biden remains strong in demographics crucial to winning the Democratic primary. He consistently captures half the African-American vote and dominates among voters over the age of 45, polls show. And while Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg have the two strongest Iowa field campaigns, Ms. Ryan said, Bernie Sanders has a powerful base and hopes to court voters outside the Democratic establishment, always making him a factor.

“So I don’t know who is going to get elected,” Ms. Ryan concluded. But she said a recent story that ran in her newspaper suggesting that Democrats are unhappy with the candidate field was more narrowly about donor dissatisfaction. “If you ask real voters, they are very happy with this field,” she said.

As the conversation came to a close, she reflected on the challenges of being a journalist in a political era that has become increasingly hostile to the industry, and her paper in particular. She said those challenges were heightened for women in the field.

“There is a lot of exhaustion,” Ms. Ryan said. “There is a lot of harassment online, especially of women. This is an extremely contentious period in this country . . . and the news cycle is unrelenting.”

Yet Ms. Ryan and her staff trudge on, and she agreed with her colleague and food editor Sam Sifton, who sat in the audience, that there remains an incredible amount of pride in the Times, its work and its staff. There was one question, however, that Ms. Ryan refused to answer.

“Do you know who Anonymous is?” said one member of the audience, referencing an anonymous Trump administration official who published an op-ed in the paper earlier this year.

“What time are we wrapping up?” Ms. Ryan smiled.