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Requiem for Emphasis

The New York Times launched a major redesign last month and, as is the way with these things, got a bunch of angry comments from pitchfork-wielding Times readers who wanted to be able to print articles with a single click instead of two. And though public editor Margaret Sullivan claims to have sifted through though thousands of comments, my one little nitpick hasn’t been addressed.

For years the Times has had a hidden feature called “Emphasis,” which would allow readers to click shift twice and then highlight and deeplink to individual sentences and paragraphs. It’s really great for a site like the New York Times to be able to pick out one well-reported detail in a longer piece and direct people’s attention directly there.

I liked it so much I found a WordPress plugin that incorporates the feature and added it to this blog. I am skeptical that anybody has ever used it here, but it’s been an option. (You can try it out by clicking shift twice.)

In any case, Emphasis is gone from the new redesign, and as far as I can tell hasn’t been mentioned since. The technical recap describes a ground-up rewrite, and it probably was just not a priority. I suspect it was never a very popular feature, but I, for one, miss it.