Bye Bye Bylines A meditation on monikers

Once upon a time bylines were handed out sparingly; to mark a special effort and good writing. Or maybe there was an element of opinion or personal experience that made articles a little special. Times changed. Media wanted to show that they had their own writers with a local take on events. Later, bylines became the rule rather than the exception, and they were attached to nearly all stories, down to a five-paragraph ditty stitched up from a press release.

Over the last six months or so, I’m noticing a lot reports where the writer is not identified. Sometimes they are straight news stories, sometimes they come from an opinion. Newspapers are cutting back. I’d venture that part of the reason is that most articles are online and sometimes they are articles updated during the day. For myself, I like to know who is writing a story. Its a touch of branding that been lost. On the other hand I’m suspicious about un-bylined stories that express opinions, and it makes me wonder if they have been written by PR hacks or marketers. Bizarrely – against the tide – the Weekend Herald has adopted the Towering Super Byline, for female opinion columnists such Wendyl Nissen, Lizzy Marvelly and Dr Michelle Dickinson, aka Nano Girl.

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4 thoughts on “<span class="entry-title-primary">Bye Bye Bylines</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">A meditation on monikers</span>”

  1. Interesting piece. A lot of the time I empathise with the Economist’s approach, where there are no bylines at all, and in general I think that bylining encourages already over-egocentric news presentation. On the other hand, corporate MSM suppressing bylines has, at least in part, the motivation of reducing the reporter’s own brand and potential bargaining power, and I don’t like that. And there are a lot of times in my neck of the woods when I want to know that it’s Brian Fallow or Rob Hosking writing, and not some apprentice know-little. Isn’t it a nuisance when there are good arguments on both sides?

    1. Yes – I agree with you on The Economist, or did in the past. But it does seem that under new ownership they are becoming more intp pithy and what seems like personal views.

  2. The Economist is unique in the respect that it has its own voice throughout the publication. It seems to me local newspapers slap a byline on anything and I hadn’t noticed a cutting back on this. I idly noticed in the Hager/Panama Papers thing, there was a story largely from the AFR which had been re-nosed with a New Zealand angle and then had the New Zealand reporters byline on it, which seemed a bit cheeky.

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