Constrained authors: Bylines and authorship in news reporting

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The proliferation of bylines characterized the news as an imperfect, all too human account of reality, opening the way towards journalistic stardom, altering power relations within the news industry and shifting news organizations from a position behind the news to one behind the people who gather and compose it. Focusing on The New York Times as the chief case study and The Times of London as a supplementary one, findings show that the bylining process extended throughout the 20th century at a far slower pace than indicated in previous research. Bylining was a four-stage process: 1) initial avoidance of bylining, thereby fostering an anonymous, authoritative voice; 2) bylines promoting organizational goals only; 3) bylines accorded to a select few staff writers, leading to inconsistency in attribution policy; and 4) papers lose control over selective crediting due to journalists' pressure for public acclaim. Using a multidisciplinary approach combining legal theory with the sociology and history of journalism, the article concludes that news reporters are constrained authors whose limitations are set chiefly by organizational, legal and commercial forces. These limitations not only delayed and slowed down their attribution but also continue to characterize their authorship to this day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-725
Number of pages19
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • The New York Times
  • The Times
  • authorship
  • bylines
  • credits
  • journalism
  • moral right
  • news reporting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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