The New York Times is trying something new with comments: placing key reactions alongside the story narrative.
The news site trialled the experiment for the first time on Saturday (27 July).
The move is part of the title’s efforts to make comments more useful for readers, Marc Lavallee, a deputy editor of interactive news at the New York Times, told Journalism.co.uk.
The first story to try the new positioning of comments was an article about oranges and how the DNA of the fruit could be altered to resist disease. And as the story explored the contentious issue of genetically modified foods, there was plenty of reader reaction.
“For this story in particular, we knew many readers would arrive with fairly well-formed perspectives on GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” Lavallee explained by email.
He said that the news outlet “wanted to foster a conversation about readers’ perspectives on the various factors informing their opinion” and “wanted to highlight the most insightful perspectives, especially for readers who don’t normally wade into comments”.
So let it be said the Gray Lady was among the first to recognize the bleats from down in steerage might actually further the conversation. Well done. 1
- Keeping in mind, of course, that ‘steerage’ at NYT is several cuts above the average commenter on a site like the Kansas City Star, much less your average blog (yes, even –GASP! — this one) or the slimy mosh pits that supposedly represent the Innernetz ‘last bastion(s) of Free Speech!’ Much of that is due to economics, of course; the price of commenting at the NYT is fiscally onerous (their pay wall) and subject to screening. So it’s not as if the NYT is worried that Jack will verbally abuse the rest of first class as he sweeps Rose away. Still and all it’s an innovation well past due. Again we say, well done. ↩