Even jaded cynics like me can see the beauty and ambition and talent in the NYT's "Snowfall" piece (is it an app? A "story"? ). It's unlike anything we've ever seen from a major news publisher and it could signal a significant new direction in news-publication storytelling: A distinctive experience as a differentiator.
The Atlantic has a great writeup of the backstory, including an interview with Steve Duenes, the NYT's Graphics Director.
Or, this experiment could be a novelty; I couldn't imagine every story having a distinct experience. The lack of consistency would be annoying. And, i can't see how they could really truly scale this up, because of cost, time, etc.
Either way, they are exploring in bold ways the possibilities of a multiscreen reading experience. It's a good example of a large company taking what they do well, and pushing the boundaries by rethinking the value for the reader. Its not a *complete* departure, but it's enough to be bold. It's so good i am actually interested to see what they do next, and that anticipation from non-NYC readers is probably exactly what they want to happen.
The experience i had reading it ("reading" is inadequate, btw) immediately reminded me of the concept of a "business class" for news. Clean, ample room, attention to detail, investment in delivering a superior experience. The kind of experience where you want to spend more time there. And, the good news, I'd actually pay MORE for experiences like this, free of cramped, ad-filled pages.