Associated Press writers are putting their bylines back on stories after withholding their names earlier this week as a protest of management’s stance in contract talks, notes Grumpy Editor.
The news agency’s photographers also withheld credit in the quiet protest.
The withholding bylines (or photo credits) idea isn’t new. Other news outlets also have employed the tactic in recent years.
What participants don’t seem to realize is that most readers --- other than family members, friends and fellow staffers --- don’t care about omitted bylines.
In earlier days of heavy competition with three, four, five or more daily newspapers in a marketing area, bylines were seldom placed on typewritten copy (which gives a clue as to the era) from reporters.
Most stories that moved through newspaper city desks ran without bylines.
However, editors sometimes scribbled names on copy in recognition of superb work or a “scoop” --- even if it beat the competition by one edition. (Metropolitan dailies at that time had up to six or seven editions a day.)
Bylines and photo credit lines are very common now.
Small stories, down to two and three paragraphs, now usually contain writers’ names. Credit lines also appear with easy-to-snap photos such as head shots, ribbon cuttings, press conferences and people walking past buildings.
About 1,400 AP editorial, technology and support workers are represented by the News Media Guild. Current contract expired on Nov. 30 and the Guild has been bargaining with management since late October.