New York Times Experiments with Reader Comments

It started over the weekend with Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Harmon’s article “A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA.” Along the right-hand side of the Web version, several reader comments have been pulled and highlighted under the heading Readers’ Perspectives.

The paper’s deputy editor of interactive news, Marc Lavallee, tells that the approach is designed mainly for readers who do not take the time to wade through reader comments. At press time, Harmon’s GMO-flavored item had 736 reader reactions. From technology editor Sarah Marshall’s piece:

The comments were elevated from below the line, placed alongside the story in a similar style to how Times‘much-discussed Snowfall presentation uses pull quotes and and visual pointers alongside the main narrative.

The commenting experiment is “part of a broader effort to weave our digital storytelling – graphics, video, engagement – into the narrative itself, instead of publishing them to different places on the web and making the reader to navigate between pages,” Lavallee said.

It makes perfect sense; as you scroll through Harmon’s article, the showcased Readers’ Perspective blurbs are pleasing to the eye and informative. Marshall also notes another NYT piece that pulled comments up to the right in Mandarin, labeling them Perspectives from China. Read her full piece here.