Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Indy | She'll be missed by her bookie -- and by Elvis

Word-for-word, following is an obituary from yesterday's Indianapolis Star. In an e-mail, a Gannett Blogger told me: "It is precious reading, proof enough that the writing of obits should be left to the professionals."

Mary N. Childers 76 years old passed away at home with friends at her bedside. Born in Booneville, Mississippi, to Ruby and Olga (Barns) Ricks. Mary was preceded in death by Stanley Childers and her son, Jimmy. Mary worked at Cardinal Mailing, Holly Oak Club, Dungeon, Hilltop Tavern, Butches Tavern, Trouble Shooters for the AW, Ritter Inn, was Den Mother for the Outlaws Motorcycle Club and the Owner and CEO of the F@#$ing Fudge Factory and Cannery. She was an avid bowler and gardener, treasurer and secretary of the South Bradley Crime Watch, and the Godmother of the South Bradley Women's Mob. She will be missed by her bookie the only bookie who made house calls, keeping her neighborhood in line and always clean as she headed up the neighborhood clean up. She is survived by her wife, June Stahl of 28 years. After Elvis left the building he moved to her basement and was holding court. Visitation will be held Tuesday, February 15, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Shirley Brothers Irving Hill Chapel, 5377 E. Washington St. with funeral services to be held on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Mary loved and honored all who entered her life. She was able to let people know what was expected and to help all to be successful.

19 comments:

  1. As a young reporter in Pine Bluff, Ark., I shared responsibility for writing obituaries.

    One night, I called the family of a man who'd died to confirm details of the funeral. I noticed that the man appeared to have been survived by his wife.

    "What's her name?" I asked.

    The son: "Oh, we don't want her name in the obituary."

    "Why?"

    "Because she shot him."

    I then patiently explained that I was no longer writing an obituary, but instead would be writing a murder story.

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  2. "proof enough that the writing of obits should be left to the professionals."

    Excuse me? The only way the real character and half of the real details of this woman's life would EVER be published would be in a paid obit.

    Especially at a Gannett paper where spineless editors make decisions based on the temperature of the phone calls and e-mails they receieve the next morning.

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  3. Are we sure there isn't an apology and retraction today?

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  4. I LOVE this obit. I hope mine is as colorful. (Unless someone has to pay for it.)

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  5. It looks like something that would be written here, except the quality of the obit is higher.

    For those who are always cheering about how corporate is shamed by reading this blog: I think it's the total opposite. Corporate reads the crap here and thinks: "Wow, we made the right decision in unloading those people."

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  6. I saw the shift from the staff writing obituaries to running whatever the family, not familiar with writing, wrote. All because now Gannett was charging. The result? If the family didn't have the moolah, no one would know by this newspaper that someone's life had passed. This was one of the first signs of Gannett's "community" focus. And if the obituary was plain pathetic, it would run that way, no changes, because... because why? They PAID for it. This mantra soon infected advertising gaffes as well. This whole thing, obit-wise, disgusted me as World War II vets started to die, a particularly prescient generation. One obit I saw which recounted a particular person's life ran to $300; it was just a column, the guy was a hero, but the family had no money. So I told my paper, citing my employee "satus" that I was a relative (I wasn't but you do what you have to do: the right thing), and they ran it a half PRICE. If that bothers anyone, ya probably are part of the problem. What asses.

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  7. Why should some under-paid, non-caring, ignorant (in the best sense of the word), over-worked shlub write about my life if my family is forced to pay for it?
    No paper will receive a dime from any family member (I already have a no-obituary clause in my will) upon my demise. Profitting from death is disgusting, and anyone that engages in such behavior is likewise a pig.
    Death-profiteers are second-worst to war-profiteers.

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  8. (Note to self: Need to work on Big Al's advance obituary. USAT's will be overly sanitized.)

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  9. They paid for the space, they can say what they want. That's another little secret -- how much GCI papers charge for obits. The last time I heard it mentioned at my paper, it was 35 cents a word.

    But try finding that information on most GCI web sites. Give Indy credit. At least their site says funeral directors will provide that information, or you can e-mail the Star to get it. My paper's web site says nothing.

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  10. Thats the kind of obit I want when I go ! lol

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  11. Jim, is that note-to-self any indication that you may have already been informed of Craig's "condition"?

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  12. 11:36 Craig's -- or Al's?

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  13. A paid Gannett obituary of moderate length can easily run more than $400. Survivors are told to let the funeral home handle the obit. This allows its cost to be hidden among all of the other funeral expenses.

    Otherwise, people might conclude that charging a widow more than $400 to say a few words about her dead husband is just a teeny bit vulturish.

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  14. Craig's... he's been "seeing" a therapist recently with greater frequency.

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  15. since when does the constitution guarantee the right to free obits - the paper had a duty to the community but where does it stop? Most, if not all papers will run a news story obit if the person is relevant to the community. Newspapers are a business and need revenue to survive. So step off your high horses and get a grip on the reality of the changes taking place. Yes, gannett has issues but each employee has a choice - the moment you collect your paycheck - it's even between you and the company.

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  16. Hey when my father died we wrote the obit and turned it into the Indy Star. It was printed verbatim. If that family was so ignorant to write such a crappy Obit. Why is that the fault of the Indy Star? Now yes an editor could have made a call asking to rewrite it but how do you know that call was not made and the family insisted obit stay as written?

    JIM I understand the point here of this post. Ie... Layoff's are hurting the professional content. BTW I know 2 people were layed off at IndyStar yesterday. One in pressroom who was previously layed off then hired back. Now layed of again.

    After reading over the qtr 4 & full year earning's transcript. My opinion why the layoff's is newsprint cost plain & simple. Look on page 7 (top of page) Gracia Martore response to the 1st question asked by Alexia Quadrani (Chase Bank) regarding newsprint cost effect of budget. Gracia's quote is "We would expect to continue, for the full year, meet our committments to keeping expenses in line with revenues. Obviously, in the first quarter, that will be a little more difficult because of the more difficult newsprint comparisons in the first quarter than we would have later in the year and some other expense factors." Gannett is now focused on beating earnings qtr vs previous qtr. It also say's newsprint cost in 1st qtr 2010 were at it's lowest in 2010 with increaases now expected in high teen's. My point being... Reason for furlough's/layoff's is a reaction to newsprint increase 1st qtr 2011 compared to 1st qtr 2010. Gannett is bent on beating those 2010 1st qtr number's. The newsprint lower 1st qtr 2010 expense versus 2011 1st qtr expense is making that extremely difficult without furlough's/layoff's.

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  17. I'd take this analysis more seriously if an adult, in the media, knew the difference between a possessive and a plural.

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  18. 1:44: There were two instances of inappropriate spellings of there today in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

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  19. I can accept paid obits (and we paid dearly for the parent who didn't qualify for a slug obit) in daily papers. What I can't accept is the complete lack of basic copyediting or even just spell-checking. It's a rare morning when my local Gannett daily (a big paper) doesn't misspell something in an obit. That erodes the credibility of the whole paper. With the money papers rake in from obits, surely they could afford a couple of hours of someone's time (even outsourced!) to make the obits accurate.

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Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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