News

A Field Guide to Ryans in Journalism

Not a journalist. Definitely a Ryan.

In 1971 the name Ryan jumped from 139 to 51 on the Social Security Administration’s list of popular names for boys. For the next 20 years the name rocketed up the charts, peaking at No. 11 in 1991. It was the year punk broke. It was the year of Operation Desert Storm. It was the year the Soviet Union dissolved. It was a year when 27,533 Ryans were born.

Ryan O’Neal may have helped kick off the Ryan decades with his wildly popular movie Love Story, which was released in 1970. In 2015 the name Ryan fell to 39, and probably faces a further decline thanks to Ryan Lochte. There are girls named Ryan, too (one of whom is a treasured colleague), but the name never caught on with girls the way it did with boys. The most popular year for female Ryans to be born in the U.S. was 1986, when 703 arrived.

Chances are no matter what field you work in, you have a Ryan nearby. In my line of work, the preponderance of Ryans seems particularly acute. (The Intercept has at least THREE Ryans–what are conference calls like there?) Recently, confronted by a Ryan I couldn’t quite place, I started a list of people in my field named Ryan so I can try to keep them all straight. It seemed unfair to keep it to myself. This list is a work in progress. I’m sure I’m missing many Ryans. Please send me more Ryans!

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously the news editor and lead media reporter for the Poynter Institute, arts editor for the now completely vanished TBD.com, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.