Love it or hate it, some of the best stories start as conversations on Twitter. When contributor Jessica McKenzie first encountered “Marty” patrolling the aisles of her local Stop & Shop, she took to Twitter to ask why, exactly, the store was sending cartoonish robots out to roam the grocery aisles. We thought that was a good question indeed, so we assigned her to go out and ask the tough questions. After learning some choice tidbits—like that these robots were implemented at a cost of $35,000 each, right after a big labor strike—McKenzie came back with a lively, thoughtful piece exploring retail surveillance, labor, and automation, some of the hottest-button issues of our times. And clearly it struck a nerve: A story that went from Twitter to publication within a week ended up being read and shared hundreds of thousands of times.“Stop & Shop now has big, goofy-looking robots patrolling its aisles. What, exactly, is the goal?” was one of the most-read, most-shared stories published by The Counter in 2019.