Who Are You? Who, Who, Who, Who? (Or, How NPR Was Blogging Before There Were Blogs) : Memmos Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott writes occasional notes about the issues journalists encounter and the way NPR handles them. They often expand on topics covered in the Ethics Handbook.
NPR logo Who Are You? Who, Who, Who, Who? (Or, How NPR Was Blogging Before There Were Blogs)

Who Are You? Who, Who, Who, Who? (Or, How NPR Was Blogging Before There Were Blogs)

In at least one way, NPR's sort-of been blogging since before the Internet was created. After all, isn't a two-way with an author or a reporter or a government official something of an audio blog post?

When we begin and end those conversations, we tell listeners about the person we're interviewing. Here's how Audie Cornish did it Wednesday during a two-way about tensions between the U.S. and Russian space programs:

At the top: "For more on what this means, we turn to John Logsdon. He's the founder of and professor emeritus at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University."

At the end: "That's John Logsdon. He's founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. Thank you so much for coming in to speak with us."

I bring this up because we need to make sure we tell our online audience who is writing for us.

Staff bylines should automatically link to their NPR.org bios (bugs in our system may prevent that from happening in some cases, we're going to work on that).

But NPR staffers who don't have online bios and any outside contributors need to be described on the page or post where their work appears. In most cases, the best way to handle it will be a note at the end of the page.

Here's an example of what to write, from a recent Code Switch post:

Camila Domonoske is an editor and producer at NPR. Her writing on literature, culture, politics and history has appeared on NPR, The Washington Independent Review of Books, The New Republic and The Nation. You can find her thoughts about poetry, bikes, baking and cat videos on twitter (@camilareads) and tumblr (camilashares).

Wright Bryan suggests putting a horizontal rule between the text and bio, as in this 13.7 post:

In cases where someone becomes a regular contributor, the way to go would seem to be to create an online bio (as we've done for regular on-air contributors) and link the byline to it. Otherwise, just be sure to paste that person's description at the bottom of each page.

We can experiment, of course, with putting the bios higher up.

If any questions come up about how a contributor should be described, especially if that person has some concerns about how much should be said, please see Chuck Holmes, Gerry Holmes, Scott Montgomery or me.