There was a lot of recent buzz (at least here, here and here) when the NYTimes experimented by prompting readers to tweet links to specific sentences in an article about Lorne Michael’s interview process for Saturday Night Live.
If you skim down the NYT’s article, you’ll see some lines that are highlighted, an invitation to share with the world, each generating a pre-baked tweet. Here’s the editor’s selection from the first half of the article:
“I was a funny guy. I was taller than everybody, and very handsome.” – Chevy Chase
“They were guys who might make you laugh, but they could beat you up if they wanted to.” – @DanaCarvey on SNL
“I was married, I had three sons, and I was on welfare. I didn’t want that no more.” – @RealTracyMorgan
“You’ll never, ever get hired if you do that for your audition.” – Molly Shannon on “Mary Katherine Gallagher”
“Everybody else’s stuff sounds better than yours.” – @SethMeyers on auditioning for SNL
“The makeup person said oh my God what happened to you? I looked like I was in a car accident.” – Cheri Oteri
“I always played older women with short hair.” Kristen Wiig on impersonating Jane Pauley at her SNL audition
“I did Sally Field and Temple Grandin. It’s too bad she’s not in the news more.” Kate McKinnon on her SNL audition
No doubt those are some fun lines. (Or no doubt some of those are fun lines?) But there’s also no doubt that those are only some of the best lines in the story. Lots of fun and valuable ideas got totally ignored by the NYT editor’s highlighter, in many cases because each was slightly too long to cram into a tweet.
Twitter and the NYT report that the tweet ratio was up 11X, which is great news for the NYT and its amply edited peers. Personally, I’d like to make my own choices about what to link to. The following are some tweets I’d have written pointing to lines the NYTimes editor ignored:
Click on the link and you’ll see the full quote I’m excited about. And if you’ve got the Pullquote app or add-on installed, you’ll see the quote in its exact context on the page.
Or this one:
So, kudos to the Times for pre-baking tweets for its readers. I passionately hope that readers take the read/write revolution one step further and control their own choices about what content to highlight and Tweet by installing a tool like Pullquote.
Why let the editors have all the fun?