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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Joe Williams, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Do co-bylines suck worse for the writers or the readers? I think they're bad on both fronts.

    The thread on AG Sulzberger and posts noting the frequency of shared bylines made me realize how wimpy I find those things. If I'm one of the bylines, I'm not liking it because no one really knows whose work is whose, who contributed what to the whole. If I'm reading the story, I don't know who's really responsible for any content therein. It's like having two people talking to me at the same time. Sort of, anyway.

    Yet I feel like there's a growing number of shared bylines, maybe because people who blog and people who write for print are having to team up on stuff. I know of one such tandem, covering a major beat, where the partners made a pact to always have co-bylines, to prove some inane point to management that was lost on me.

    I understand the need once in a while, if one reporter truly contributes something that only he/she could have gotten or something that comes from way out in left field. But I'm seeing co-bylines on everything short of game stories these days, or so it seems, certainly a lot more often in sports news.
  2. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    As a reader, I don't understand why it would bother you.
  3. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Bylines aren't for readers.

    Shared bylines suck for writers.
  4. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I don't think readers care at all if there is a byline, a double byline, 9 bylines or no byline.
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Why do they suck for writers, Rick?
  6. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Pretty much ruins any chance of using it as a clip. Otherwise, pretty much irrelevant. Guess "suck" is overstating it.
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Well, I guess it bothers me as a reader who does this sort of work for a living. As a result, I pay more attention to bylines than the average customer. Seeing two always feels, I don't know, off somehow. In terms of the old "do your own work" orders from grade school.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Oh, I forgot. The reason for every story and every byline is "can I use this for a clip."

    Pretty much irrelelvant sums it up.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Is there any other reason for bylines? I've never found them to be particularly important in general.
  10. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    I think only books should be co-written. At least in that scenario the subject is vast and complex enough that one person can be sent to investigate one far corner of the matter and devote the proper time and concentration.

    With newspapers, too many cooks in a small(er) kitchen. And that's before the editing process.
  11. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I understand the need for articles that are co-written. Maybe someone starts on a story that isn't their beat because the beat writer was sick, on another story, out of town, o0r out of the office and then the beat writer finishes up. Or just if it is a lot of work that needs to be done quickly.

    No more than two though. I hate reading those bylines with four writers. Of course, I don't make these rules.
  12. thesnowman

    thesnowman Member


    Highest-profile story I'd written (up until last year) had a shared byline with two other writers. I couldn't have cared less.
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