Credit where it’s due

“Saying people’s names isn’t difficult, but it does disrupt the assumption that brilliant journalistic work is the product of singular, virtuosic talents rather than collaboration.”

In 1970, a group of female researchers at Newsweek sued the magazine for gender discrimination. Researchers were central to the journalism process at the time. They took reporters’ copy down by phone, cleaned it up, and fact-checked and filled in facts. But it wasn’t their names that showed up at the tops of articles; it was the male reporters’. And women were never promoted to staff writer roles.

Today’s journalism is no less a team effort, and we still have a crediting problem. While reporters now type up their own copy — some even load it into content management systems! — they still collaborate with editors who shape their stories. Their work is tightened and protected by copy editors and fact checkers, and audience editors write headlines and social copy and develop strategies to reach the people who need the reporting most.

So why do so many organizations still only credit reporters on stories?

A lot of journalism work is hard to byline — at least that’s what we’ve been told. How does one give credit to the photo editor who didn’t take the photo, but selected the perfect image to accompany a story? What about the social media editor who was able to distill a complicated article into a perfect headline and subhed combination? Or the data journalist who backread a reporter’s copy to make sure their conclusions were correct?

A lot of this work isn’t credited, and that makes it difficult to make a case for job opportunities, especially internal promotions. Digital folks are told over and over again that they don’t have the skills to advance in their newsrooms because they didn’t come up in the “traditional” way; the truth is often that those in positions to hire and promote often don’t have full visibility or understanding of what these workers are actually doing and how they contribute to the success of newsrooms.

Audio, in particular, has been terrible about giving credit to the producers and editors who work behind the scenes on podcasts and radio broadcasts. Not crediting production perpetuates the myth that podcasting is the product of singularly charismatic hosts, which is naive at best and destructive at worst. Workers’ labor is erased and undervalued, and compensation and working conditions follow. Budgets bloat to pay “talent” that wouldn’t know the difference between a mono and a stereo file, while producers burn out and leave the industry.

Credit isn’t an ego boost. It’s a direct reflection of the perceived value that someone brings to an organization. Who gets credit directly relates to who is paid more, who receives more opportunities, and what the industry as a whole looks like.

National Public Radio only revised its byline policy last month to standardize giving credit to producers, researchers, and editors in addition to on-air voices. This was the result of negotiations with NPR’s SAG-AFTRA unit, and it means that producers’ names will be said out loud at the end of podcasts and broadcasts, a bare minimum of credit being given to the people who created the works:

Many publications have started including more comprehensive credit lists on enterprise projects but that credit doesn’t often extend to smaller scale coverage. I’d like to see more comprehensive crediting on all types of stories built into publishing processes. I’m hoping more publications follow The Markup’s example: Each article includes a credits section highlighting the names of everyone who touched the pieces:

Saying people’s names isn’t difficult, but it does disrupt the assumption that brilliant journalistic work is the product of singular, virtuosic talents rather than collaboration.

Alex Sujong Laughlin is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in New Haven.

In 1970, a group of female researchers at Newsweek sued the magazine for gender discrimination. Researchers were central to the journalism process at the time. They took reporters’ copy down by phone, cleaned it up, and fact-checked and filled in facts. But it wasn’t their names that showed up at the tops of articles; it was the male reporters’. And women were never promoted to staff writer roles.

Today’s journalism is no less a team effort, and we still have a crediting problem. While reporters now type up their own copy — some even load it into content management systems! — they still collaborate with editors who shape their stories. Their work is tightened and protected by copy editors and fact checkers, and audience editors write headlines and social copy and develop strategies to reach the people who need the reporting most.

So why do so many organizations still only credit reporters on stories?

A lot of journalism work is hard to byline — at least that’s what we’ve been told. How does one give credit to the photo editor who didn’t take the photo, but selected the perfect image to accompany a story? What about the social media editor who was able to distill a complicated article into a perfect headline and subhed combination? Or the data journalist who backread a reporter’s copy to make sure their conclusions were correct?

A lot of this work isn’t credited, and that makes it difficult to make a case for job opportunities, especially internal promotions. Digital folks are told over and over again that they don’t have the skills to advance in their newsrooms because they didn’t come up in the “traditional” way; the truth is often that those in positions to hire and promote often don’t have full visibility or understanding of what these workers are actually doing and how they contribute to the success of newsrooms.

Audio, in particular, has been terrible about giving credit to the producers and editors who work behind the scenes on podcasts and radio broadcasts. Not crediting production perpetuates the myth that podcasting is the product of singularly charismatic hosts, which is naive at best and destructive at worst. Workers’ labor is erased and undervalued, and compensation and working conditions follow. Budgets bloat to pay “talent” that wouldn’t know the difference between a mono and a stereo file, while producers burn out and leave the industry.

Credit isn’t an ego boost. It’s a direct reflection of the perceived value that someone brings to an organization. Who gets credit directly relates to who is paid more, who receives more opportunities, and what the industry as a whole looks like.

National Public Radio only revised its byline policy last month to standardize giving credit to producers, researchers, and editors in addition to on-air voices. This was the result of negotiations with NPR’s SAG-AFTRA unit, and it means that producers’ names will be said out loud at the end of podcasts and broadcasts, a bare minimum of credit being given to the people who created the works:

Many publications have started including more comprehensive credit lists on enterprise projects but that credit doesn’t often extend to smaller scale coverage. I’d like to see more comprehensive crediting on all types of stories built into publishing processes. I’m hoping more publications follow The Markup’s example: Each article includes a credits section highlighting the names of everyone who touched the pieces:

Saying people’s names isn’t difficult, but it does disrupt the assumption that brilliant journalistic work is the product of singular, virtuosic talents rather than collaboration.

Alex Sujong Laughlin is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in New Haven.

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

Molly de Aguiar and Mandy Van Deven   Narrative change trend brings new money to journalism

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Alan Henry   A reckoning with why trust in news is so low

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Stefanie Murray   The year U.S. media stops screwing around and becomes pro-democracy

Hillary Frey   Death to the labor-intensive memo for prospective hires

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Anika Anand   Independent news businesses lead the way on healthy work cultures

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

Shanté Cosme   The answer to “quiet quitting” is radical empathy

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat

Johannes Klingebiel   The innovation team, R.I.P.

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-check (no, really!)

Juleyka Lantigua   Newsrooms recognize women of color as the canaries in the coal mine

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

Jennifer Brandel   AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more. 

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Eric Holthaus   As social media fragments, marginalized voices gain more power

Dominic-Madori Davis   Everyone finally realizes the need for diverse voices in tech reporting

Mauricio Cabrera   It’s no longer about audiences, it’s about communities

Jenna Weiss-Berman   The economic downturn benefits the podcasting industry. (No, really!)

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Doris Truong   Workers demand to be paid what the job is worth

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Megan Lucero and Shirish Kulkarni   The future of journalism is not you

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

S. Mitra Kalita   “Everything sucks. Good luck to you.”

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Kavya Sukumar   Belling the cat: The rise of independent fact-checking at scale

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Well-being will become a core tenet of journalism

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

Ryan Gantz   “I’m sorry, but I’m a large language model”

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Cari Nazeer and Emily Goligoski   News organizations step up their support for caregivers

Sarah Stonbely   Growth in public funding for news and information at the state and local levels

Martina Efeyini   Talk to Gen Z. They’re the experts of Gen Z.

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Sam Guzik   AI will start fact-checking. We may not like the results.

Michael W. Wagner   The backlash against pro-democracy reporting is coming

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Kaitlin C. Miller   Harassment in journalism won’t get better, but we’ll talk about it more openly

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Mission-driven metrics become our North Star

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

Andrew Losowsky   Journalism realizes the replacement for Twitter is not a new Twitter

Burt Herman   The year AI truly arrives — and with it the reckoning

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Cindy Royal   Yes, journalists should learn to code, but…

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

Jennifer Choi and Jonathan Jackson   Funders finally bet on next-generation news entrepreneurs

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Danielle K. Brown and Kathleen Searles   DEI efforts must consider mental health and online abuse

Ryan Kellett   Airline-like loyalty programs try to tie down news readers

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs

Sam Gregory   Synthetic media forces us to understand how media gets made

Mariana Moura Santos   A woman who speaks is a woman who changes the world

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Nikki Usher   This is the year of the RSS reader. (Really!)

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

Andrew Donohue   We’ll find out whether journalism can, indeed, save democracy

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Jarrad Henderson   Video editing will help people understand the media they consume

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

Laura E. Davis   The year we embrace the robots — and ourselves

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

Errin Haines   Journalists on the campaign trail mend trust with the public

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Jacob L. Nelson   Despite it all, people will still want to be journalists

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Nicholas Jackson   There will be launches — and we’ll keep doing the work

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

Daniel Trielli   Trust in news will continue to fall. Just look at Brazil.

Christina Shih   Shared values move from nice-to-haves to essentials

Paul Cheung   More news organizations will realize they are in the business of impact, not eyeballs

Don Day   The news about the news is bad. I’m optimistic.

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

Jim Friedlich   Local journalism steps up to the challenge of civic coverage

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

An Xiao Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Felicitas Carrique and Becca Aaronson   News product goes from trend to standard

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again