Byline


The byline on a newspaper or magazine article gives the name of the writer of the article. Bylines are commonly placed between the headline and the text of the article, although some magazines (notably Reader's Digest) place bylines at the bottom of the page to leave more room for graphical elements around the headline.  

Bylines were rare before the late 19th century. Before then, the most similar practice was the occasional "signed" or "signature" article. The word byline itself first appeared in print in 1926, in a scene set in a newspaper office in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  

One of the earliest consistent uses of the idea was for battlefield reporting during the American Civil War. In 1863, Union General Joseph Hooker required battlefield reporters to sign their articles so that he would know which journalist to blame for any errors or security violations.  

The practice became more popular at the end of the 19th century, as journalists became more powerful and popular figures. Bylines were used to promote or create celebrities among some yellow journalists during this time. Proponents of signed articles believed that the signature made the journalist more careful and more honest; publishers thought it made papers sell better.  

However, the increasing use of bylines was resisted by others, including the publisherҐowner of The New York Times, Adolph Ochs, who believed that bylines interfered with the impersonal nature of news and decreased the sense of institutional responsibility for an article's content. Bylines remained rare in that newspaper for several more decades.  

Since the 1970s, most modern newspapers and magazines have attributed almost all but their shortest articles and their own editorial pieces to individual reporters or to wire services.  

An exception is the British weekly The Economist, which publishes nearly all material except blog posts anonymously. The Economist explains this practice as being traditional and reflective of the collaborative nature of their reporting.