Why do you read THE POLITICO? For politics news, or perhaps to reminisce of sweet Mike Allen daydreams of old. I am not psychic, but I doubt that you read THE POLITICO because you are dying to know where each and every reporter attended college.
Here is what the average reader needs to know about who wrote the average news story: probably nothing. Not even a name. If we are being honest with ourselves, the vast majority of the time there would be absolutely no negative consequences for readers if a story’s byline read “STAFF.” For sophisticated readers and media junkies, bylines are useful. You get the name of who wrote the story. You can track various writers’ work, compare and contrast, and evaluate them. Fine. Bylines have their utility. They go at the top of the story, and they’re easy to skip over if you don’t care.
For the small minority of very close media watchers, it may be useful to have a title attached to the name. So-and-so is a junior reporter who covers X, so-and-so is a senior reporter who covers Y. A tiny percentage of readers may find this information useful. But that is it. That is the maximum possible amount of info that anyone could possibly want about the random reporter who wrote the random news story they happen to be reading.
THE POLITICO, however, goes farther. Much farther. As you reach the end of a story you have been scrolling through on your phone, you are treated to a bio of the random-ass reporter who wrote the story. Why? For example, as discussed above, this is already too much information:
You wrote some story about some Trump tweet, probably. Do I care where you grew up? No. But that is only the beginning.
Do I care where you come from versus where you currently live, random reporter? No.
Don’t care where you got your start.
Your interests—don’t care.
Are these getting longer?
Consider shortening your bios.
Hamilton Nolan is an associate Facebook “Instant Articles” intern for Gizmodo Media Group. Prior to joining Gizmodo Media Group he was a celebrated intern at the St. Augustine Record and was named “Adequate” by his high school journalism teacher for his work editing the “What’s For Lunch Today” section in his high school paper, the West End Smegma-Leader. Hamilton hails from Sitka, Alaska, but most recently has moved to New York City—The Big Apple!—where he enjoys eating bagels, hot dogs from carts, and visiting the top of the Empire State Building to gaze out at the city’s landmarks (The Statue of Liberty). Hamilton’s journalistic role model is [CURRENT EDITOR/ EMPLOYER] and his journalistic motto is “Get the story no matter how much you have to go through because getting the story is what it is all about.” On weekends he can be found walking his pet monkey, Arlo, who performs often at Amateur Night at the Apollo.