Do you remember the first time you saw your name in print?

Lance Morgan

Some decades ago, Sports Illustrated ran a small advertisement for itself and for magazines in general. As an aspiring journalist (I told you it was some decades ago), I kept the glossy page of text in my wallet for a long time. I don't remember the exact words, and the page is long gone from my wallet. But it began something like this:

"Woody Johnson, WoodyJohnson, woodyjohnson. Do you remember the first time you saw your name in print and how it made you feel?"

The magazine was making a simple point about seeing your name in a publication – written down in permanent printed recognition of accomplishment or achievement.

I think about the ad often these days because of the success of the new media and what it portends for the future of communications. Truth to tell, I have no idea what it portends about our future. But I know what it says about us.

All people have opinions about pretty much everything. Until recently, we voiced [sic] those ideas to each other almost always individually. And once we spoke [sic] our piece, it was gone; lost in the atmosphere.

Today, thanks to social media, we can communicate simultaneously to dozens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of our friends and followers. How we communicate is vastly different from the ways we have done in the past.

But what we communicate through the new media is the same. Words. In writing. It’s why so many people get into trouble these days for carelessly flopping around their half-baked thoughts and shoot-from-the-lip musings. Because words matter and writing them down – even in pixilated form – gives them the permanence missing from the spoken word.

Digital media may be taking over the world. And not all words stay written down for ever. (Thank god for small favors.) But it’s good to remember that many, if not most, words live on after they are typed or dictated. To be looked at, laughed at, respected or ridiculed.

Do you remember the first time you saw your name in print?


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