Twitter is a breaking news destination that is now being featured offline in a popular print publication as a way to provide further context on trending news articles.
The New York Times will start highlighting the best and most relevant tweets from its reporting staff in a new section in its newspaper.
The move recognizes the importance of Twitter as a breaking news service, one that is used by Times’ reporters to reel off tweetstorms that can precede an article and elucidate it. As Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton has previously pointed out, the Times has (until now) missed out on capitalizing on its reporters most relevant tweets.
The changes are part of a bigger effort to bridge the publisher’s digital and print content — what Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine, described as a friendly relationship between the two mediums.
Tweets and social media activity will be highlighted in the Times’ redesigned A2 and A3 newspaper pages under the “Spotlight” banner. Most recently, the section included an Instagram post from T magazine’s Instagram account. In general, it will mostly be home to tweets from Times’ reporters, in the vein of the tweetstorms shared by the paper’s Islamic State and Al-Qaeda expert, Rukmini Callimachi.
The redesigned pages, which are presented in a magazine-like style, are “a step toward creating a print newspaper for a digital era,” according to executive editor Dean Baquet. Also included in the new section is a rundown of the Times’ most popular online posts, highlights from its audio and video content, and a mini-crossword puzzle, among other small features. The pages sound like the newspaper’s very own take on the trending tabs offered by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
But that doesn’t mean the Times is using the section to push more of its readership online — after all, it doesn’t want its existing print readership to take any more of a hit in an era when the majority of people get their news online via those same social networks. Instead, its intended as a way to summarize the wide-ranging online reportage of the media outlet: “These things aren’t meant to be referrals to the digital experience, but small encapsulations,” Silverstein told Nieman Lab.