Guidance On The Titles 'Analyst' & 'Commentator' : Editorial Guidance from the Managing Editor 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.

Guidance On The Titles 'Analyst' & 'Commentator'

"News reporting and analysis are at the center of our work," The Ethics Handbook says. "Valid news analysis flows naturally from deep, thorough reporting. Its role is to provide interpretation, explanation and context."

In other words, analytical reporting is a big part of what we do.

It isn't commentary – "the expression of opinion on items of public interest." We leave that to others. If we bring them on the air to explain things and offer their opinions, they are "commentators."

Can we also call them "analysts?" No.

We want to be very clear. There's a difference between "analysis" and "commentary." Our journalists analyze events and issues. So do some guests. Others offer commentary.

Related note: Though they analyze, we don't refer to our journalists as "analysts." First, that makes it sound like they work on Wall Street or in a laboratory. Second, there is too much potential for confusion. The words "analyst" and "commentator" have become interchangeable in many listeners' minds, even though they mean different things.