Monday, February 2, 2015


Has the following ever happened to you? You’re reading a book or an article and you come across a last name (let’s say Smith) that you don’t recall. You scan the material you’ve read, flipping back, flipping back, until you find the first mention of Smith, with requisite first name. Oh, right, that’s who Smith is. Back on track, memory refreshed, you continue reading your book or article. Only sometimes, you flip back and flip back and flip back and … nothing. Your thirst is never quenched; you never come across a first-name oasis. Smith has been — has always been — just Smith. No given name, no title. Nothing. A man of mystery, Smith is.

This is the print version, sans first name.
Frustrating, isn’t it, when this occurs? It happened to me when I read the article pictured above. (I haven’t included images of the entire article, so you’ll have to trust me on this. My pants are not ablaze, I promise you!) What you see here is the 12th paragraph of a two-page USA Today cover story. It referenced Stumpf, and it had me stumped. I didn’t recall seeing his name in the first 11 paragraphs, so I checked, expecting to see a first name on second glance. Didn’t see anything. Assuming I had missed it again, I checked again. I checked a third time. A fourth, even. Half of eight is enough. If at first, second, third and fourth you don’t succeed, give up. I had not overlooked Stumpf’s first name. The writer had.

Who was Stumpf? With curiosity piqued, I headed to the Internet, seeking enlightenment. I visited USA Today’s website and, sure enough, the online version of the article provided a first name and a title upon first reference. Stumpf is Rick, and he’s the assistant athletics director of compliance.

It’s nice to meet you, Rick.

This is the online version, after a Rick fix.

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