The Times tested the feature on article by Times reporter Dave Itzkoff that details the oral history of “Saturday Night Live” auditions. In the article "The God of ‘SNL’ Will See You Now," when readers run across highlighted sentences with the iconic Twitter bird, its a signal to the reader that you can click to tweet.
After its posted on Twitter, users who read the tweet and click on the accompanying link won't have to read the whole article to find the quote: the link goes directly to the highlighted part of the story.
“I think that gives us comfort in providing these prompts without making us feel like we’re putting words in people’s mouths,” Times Deputy Editor of Interactive News Marc Lavallee told
The Times told Poynter the "editorialized tweets" served as an experiment while the newspaper prepares for a site redesign next year.
“It’s not like a feature that’s in the pipeline to be rolled out sitewide," the Times Deputy Editor said.
Currently, if readers use Twitter directly from a Times story, the tweet would only feature the story's headline. Readers may also bypass that by copying and pasting a sentence from a story directly into a tweet.
This feature eliminates the first and takes the extra hassle out of the second.
How did the Times determine which sentences should be highlighted? "Just a bit of educated guesswork," Times reporter Itzkoff told Poynter, Itzkoff said he tried to climb into the skin of the reader and "imagine what readers would be drawn to and what would make the best traveling billboards for the overall story."
Early results from the experiment seem positive. "I am in LOVE with this feature," Poynter reader Anna Seacat commented, "because as a writer there are often secondary themes beyond the standard headline that you hope people will tweet about.
Others, weren't so impressed.
"I hate this feature," another Poynter reader said. "I want to curate by myself - let me pick out a quote I find interesting; don't tell me what I should find interesting."
"Editorialized tweets" from the Times comes just as Twitter experiments with new features of its own. As Mashable
points out, last week, Twitter released a "Related Headlines"
feature that gives the story behind a tweet.