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.