When did newspapers start using bylines?
June 12, 2016 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Was this a journalism issue? Why?
posted by ebesan to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a great short article about that by the New York Times. The loose answer is 1830s and it became more normalized in the 1860s.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

There is a pretty good rundown here.

Until 1925 the Associated Press had a no-bylines policy (possibly with the exception of the Civil War era bylines cited in Jessamyn's link). The first bylined AP story appeared in 1925. At that point, bylines became optional at the AP. However, at many newspapers and magazines bylines had become standard much earlier.

In my experience in small-maker newspapers, until somewhere in the 1970s at many newspapers, bylines were not standard. Rather, they were awarded by the editor as reward for a very well-done piece. Even when bylines became the norm, reporters had some control over whether or not they appeared, and at unionized newspapers they would occasionally call a "byline strike," withholding permission to publish their byline, on the theory that this devalued the newspaper product in the minds of readers. In any case, by the mid 1980s virtually everything got a byline at most newspapers, although there continue to be news outlets with no bylines, for example The Economist.

Bylines do appear to have been an "journalism issue" particularly in the late 1800s, early 1900s. As detailed at the Reuters blog piece in my first link above, publishers like Adolph Ochs of the New York Times felt that the publication, not the writer, was responsible for the content of stories, and that “the business of the paper must be absolutely impersonal.” Others argued that bylines would require writers to be more responsible.
posted by beagle at 8:51 AM on June 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

It was a Civil War contrivance for generals to keep track of which reporter wrote what. The vanity rolled in shortly after...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:00 PM on June 12, 2016

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