What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot when it comes to a journalist’s byline. So here we’re being shamelessly superficial as we pick out those names in Washington journalism that we like just because of the way they look on paper or sound. No doubt they all work hard, have earned their bylines and have people who like them and love them.
But forget about all that. This is more like a beauty contest for names.
See who caught our eye…10. Ry Rivard — Does it get any cooler than this? He’s a tech reporter for Inside Higher Ed and only fairly recently moved to Washington. “Ry is from Ry Cooder, the slide guitar player,” Rivard told FishbowlDC. “Mr. Cooder’s full first name is Ryland, but mine is just Ry. My father, a musician, picked it. Rivard is French-Canadian. The Rivards were early settlers of modern Detroit. I have no middle name.”
9. J. Freedom du Lac — Any name that includes “freedom” is an incredible name in our fishy book. DuLac writes for WaPo. Born in San Francisco, on Haight Street, to hippie parents, Josh explains that “Freedom isn’t just another word for nothing left to lose; it’s also my middle name, as in written on my birth certificate. Have used J. Freedom du Lac as my byline since late 1993/early 1994. Was once told it was (is?) the worst byline in journalism.” Obviously on that last note, we could not disagree more.
8. Hadas Gold — Media reporter, Politico. According to her bio, Hadas is Tel Aviv born and Arizona raised. She earned her B.A. in journalism and M.A. in media and public affairs from The George Washington University. Her name is a pleasing combination of exotic and golden. The actual meaning of her name is “Myrtel tree.” Hadas was the Hebrew name for Esther.
7. Nia Malika Henderson — It’s hard to say this WaPo reporter’s name without saying the full version each and every time you say it, but even just Nia Malika is pleasing to the ear and just damn fun to say.
6. Billy House — House leadership reporter, National Journal. Besides sounding very AMC’s “Mad Men” or like someone who should have his own sitcom, House covering the House of Representatives is just a dream name, job title pairing. Clean. Confident. Bold. At least by the sound of his name, we’re sold.
5. Nick Gass — Politico web producer. We’re not going to dignify this one by saying anything. As an old editor used to say, less is more.
4. Jason Dick — The “Around the Hill” Editor at CQ Roll Call has had to endure more than his fair share of dick jokes in his time. The Washington journalist who nominated him insisted that Dick be on our “Journos Who Could be Porn Stars” list and this one. How can you not love a journalist who, first off, has two first names? Any way you slice it, it’s a beautiful thing, and far better than Weiner.
3. Jummy Olibanji – WJLA Morning anchor. Pronounced: Jooomeeee. “My full name is Jumoke Olabanji – Jummy for short,” she wrote by email, explaining that she was born in Toronto and raised in Fairfax, Va. “My parents are West African (Nigeria) and Jumoke is actually a pretty common name there. Think Jennifer or something, haha.” She says people don’t screw it up too much. “They get intimidated to say it,” she explained, “but once I tell someone how to say it they always say ‘it rolls right off the tongue!'”
2. Nirvi Shah – Politico Education Editor. In case you were wondering, Nirvi is a woman.
1. Isaac Stone Fish — Reporter for Foreign Policy. Seriously, who died and created this name? At once fishy and stone-cold cool, it comes as close to perfection as anything we can think of at the moment. To top it off, “Isaac” strikes a sincere, biblical note. In it, he is only son Abraham had with his wife, Sarah. As the story goes, God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son, which Abraham was willing to do and God gave him a pass. The exact meaning of Isaac is, “he laughs.” Stone Fish explains, “My Mom’s last name was Stone, my Dad’s last name was Fish. My three brothers, Aarlo, Hugh, Avery and I decided to take both last names — with a space, and no hyphen. The questions I get a lot are: ‘Is that a penname?’ (no), the ‘Are you related to IF Stone (no), and the ‘Are you Native American?’ (ie., Jewish, yes).”
Grae Stafford, reporter, The Daily Caller
Sonny Bunch, Managing Editor, Washington Free Beacon
McKay Coppins, Political Editor, BuzzFeed
Petula Dvorak, local reporter, WaPo
CNN’s Athena Jones