As someone who writes a lot of health care articles for various publications, I’m accustomed to putting letters after people’s names. That is, I’m used to describing someone like this: “David Wyckoff, M.D., a pediatrician in Nashville…” Or “Nancy Roth, RN, a nurse in Salt Lake City…” I often list my sources’ credentials in other instances, too. For example, if I interviewed a school administrator, I would certainly include her Ph.D. or Ed.D. after her name in the story I’d write.
But I never use any letters after my own name. I guess I could. I have a master’s degree. But it just seems goofy somehow, as a writer, to use “Jennifer Larson, M.A.” as a byline. Especially since it’s a master’s in journalism and not, say, a master’s in public health or psychology that might be interesting to readers. And I have to admit that when I see fellow journalists list their degrees after their names in their bylines, I kind of roll my eyes a little. It’s not about us. It’s not about our vaunted education (such as it may be). It’s about our stories. It’s about the people we write about. Not that I’d tell a fellow writer to stop using an M.A. or M.S. after his name if he really really wanted to do so. But I just don’t think I’m going to do it.
So I’m just Jennifer Larson. Or sometimes Jennifer Larson, contributor.