The night of the 2012 presidential elections was the first time the New York Times used webfonts for the headlines on their homepage. Specifically, their custom version of Cheltenham was used to report the news of the election results.
The Times has been using webfonts for their Opinion section and other less-prominent pages (served with the help of technology from Typekit), but this seems to be the first time that webfonts have shown up front and center on their homepage.
While the use of custom typefaces for headlines helps the Times tie their online presence more tightly with the rest of their existing (mostly printed) visual brand, there is still much room for improvement in the rest of the type palette and overall layout of their website. Most of the current site consists of Arial and Georgia arranged on a relatively generic and static grid.
Hopefully this new prominence of webfont headlines for some of the year’s biggest news (as well as webfonts in the wonderful accompanying info graphics – a topic for a separate post on its own) points to upcoming improvements in nytimes.com’s typography. They could take a lesson from their sister site, bostonglobe.com, which recently underwent an overhaul with webfonts and responsive layout throughout.